The Summer 2017 edition of e-O&P (Vol 24, No 2) explores the issues involved in developing cross-cultural reciprocal relationships between individuals and communities, and within organisational life in its many forms.  What are the benefits of engaging reciprocally?  And is there a shadow side of reciprocity?  Join in the conversation.

In case it helps. we've attached a copy of the original Call for Contributions, and a pdf copy of the entire 'Reciprocity' edition, which may take a minute to download in its entirety.  You can also read an html version of the Editorial here:

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The post-publication review conference call with the editors inspired me to have another look at the articles and think more about the concept of reciprocity. I was intrigued by how I had seen it and thought, 'oh yeah, makes sense' but didn't really engage with it until I was invited into the dance myself.

The idea of 'rupture and repair' seems particularly helpful (although not actually represented in the diagramme) and beautifully, if accidentally, illustrated by the editorial and its appendix. I was stung, or jarred, rather, by Chris's remark about '... the anti-Brexit reference ...' because I had certainly been swept along with 'a taken-for-granted assumption that [I] share[d] that viewpoint'.

I don't know how Bob felt, as author of the phrase in the call for papers to which Chris alluded but I felt chastened for going along with it as I read Chris's critique. But then I read Bob's conciliatory response and the exchange which followed and was cheered again by the Spirit of AMED. (Do I get a bit silly about this sometimes? I hope not because I do find it special.)

Someone needs the courage to voice their disagreement. Strong feelings can be aroused so a bit of emotion may leak in. If piqued, I must still listen, assuming benign intentions and striving to understand. If I'm not being surprised, am I really learning anything of much importance?

Thank you for the open access to your difficult exchange. I think good repairs can strengthen the whole fabric.

Thanks for the comment, David. You helpfully and generously highlight the importance of our listening to others - an essential ingredient in efforts to achieve social cohesion alongside meaningful progress. It seems to me that this practice is conspicuous by its absence in much of today's political policy-making and everyday discourse.

A story...

Just over 30 years ago, I was sitting in the audience at the SDP's annual conference in Buxton. I was listening to a highly intellectual, well-intentioned, but emotionally 'dry' debate on inequality.

Suddenly, the mood in the hall was transformed. A member from London, Ann Brennan, had the audience clapping, cheering, and stamping their feet as she brilliantly made her point about the need for the Party to stop talking to themselves and instead engage with the wider, more representative population of the UK (as exemplified, she suggested, by people like her). She left to a standing ovation; her speech cut short by Party President Shirley Williams, for exceeding her allotted four minutes. It was the only time that I can recall Shirley being shouted down by party members.

As it turned out, Ann Brennan had been coached in the skills of speech-making by Max Atkinson (author of Clap Trap) and other experts in the field, as the basis of a Channel 4 TV programme. Importantly, the points that she wanted to make were her own. She just needed help in putting those across in ways that would resonate with the audience. In essence, she was arguing for a more inclusive, down-to-earth, less intellectual and less elitist (less patronising?) expression of the issues being addressed. That is, an approach that was more congruent with the sort of society that we, as members of the SDP , were supposedly in favour of creating.

Her speech was a model in the construction and delivery of good lines. But, in the light of my challenge to Bob's invitation for contributions to the eO&P edition on reciprocity, one point in particular stands out.

One of her mentors was Joe Haines, a journalist and one-time speechwriter for Labour Prime Minister of the '60s and '70s, Harold Wilson. She told him that she wanted to express her concern that party members were speaking in ways that failed to connect with the ordinary man and woman in the street. His response went something like this...

"When you get up to speak you will be surrounded by a sea of Guardian readers. Tell them this, 'If everyone who reads the Guardian - and only them - votes SDP at the next General Election, we'll lose our deposit in every constituency in the country!'."

When she delivered the line, she wasn't able to finish the sentence before most people in the hall had risen to their feet clapping and cheering. Her point hit home then; and it seems equally relevant today, in the context of the response of the self-styled liberal elite to the somewhat inconvenient decision of the majority of voters to opt to leave the EU.

My point, like that of Ann Brennan back in 1984, is that those of us who consider ourselves to be seeking a more progressive response to the issues of the day need to begin by listening to others whose history and circumstances lead them to see the world differently. Only by acknowledging, and seeking to understand, these other perspectives - as well as critically examining our own - is there likely to be a chance of reconciling the differences.

Arguably, the Brexit vote is as much to do with the failure of the 2016 equivalent of Joe Haines's 'Guardian readers' to take seriously the views, needs and concerns of 'ordinary people', as it is to the susceptibility of the latter to be taken-in by so-called populist rhetoric.

P. S. My original comments were not directed at Bob, whom I only saw as channelling the taken-for-granted position of 'people like us'. We're good friends!

P. P. S. A copy of the original Channel 4 programme can be found on Max Atkinson's blog:

Thanks, Chris.  I enjoy a good story and appreciate your drawing my attention to the Claptrap video.  

I couldn't agree more with your point about the importance of listening to understand other perspectives than our own.  But I was surprised to find, (another good surprise, of course) that the point of the video was rather different.  If I haven't misread it, the use of a few (3?) relatively simple and well-known oratorical techniques is, if not enough, at least a necessary condition for getting one's point across effectively.  Startling.  

As for friendship and the direction of challenging remarks, I wish we could be less fearful of ruptures so we could speak more freely.  It can be painful, having my unrecognised assumptions revealed to me but it's well worth the momentary discomfort.  

Thanks again, David.

You're quite right about the focus of Claptrap, which is on how best to get one's message across. In this case, that simply provided the context for my more substantive point (or Ann Brennan's) that there is often a tendency amongst those who purport to speak on behalf of 'the common man' to Ignore or dismiss what she/he actually thinks.

And here are some notes that Shelagh compiled from flipcharts created during our AMED Writers' Group conversations on 18 August.

Hi Bob,

Can't seem to see the aforesaid notes.

In refreshing my memory on the brief discussion, I note that my original response to David, which mentioned the story of the Claptrap video, has mysteriously disappeared.

Cheers, Chris

Hi, Chris

I'll send you an e-mail, copied to David.  Best wishes.  Bob

Hi Bob,

Curiouser and curiouser... I can now see the link - which I couldn't before. And my 'missing' comment re Claptrap has also reappeared. Perhaps (probably) the glitch was at my end.

Cheers, Chris

Whatever it was, Chris, I'm glad it's now sorted.  Best wishes.  Bob 

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