• nicole calder

three years ago i was sitting in a doctor's office being told "it's your acl...again." my brother and i then raced off to the airport as we were flying to melbourne to see fleetwood mac that night. i cried the entire flight. i cried whilst walking the streets of melbourne. and i cried in the cafe in which i poured my feelings into a blog post.

what struck me was that for the four hours in which i cried continuously, in front of many strangers, not one person stopped to ask if i was okay. if i needed a tissue, a hug, an ear.

now i get it - people don't want to intrude. i was a stranger - it's not like they had any affinity to me as a human or any reason to involve themselves in my life. so they didn't. but this is exactly what's wrong with society - we're so afraid of taking an interest, of being seen as intrusive, we would rather let our fellow human beings not only feel shit with what they're feeling, but also alone in what they're feeling.

as humans, we're failing. we're failing to fulfil the basic duties of being human. basic duties which include taking responsibility for those around us. showing up. taking an active interest. caring. when we ignore humans in distress, we're choosing comfort over connection. we're choosing fear over love.

this approach is costing us our lives. it's costing us our friendships, our relationships, our jobs. the rich keep getting richer and the poor, poorer. bullies keep bullying. all because we're afraid to get involved. afraid to get out of our comfort zone. not taking a stand is taking a stand - it's standing with the perpetrators.

when we stand up for others, it benefits us as well as the person we're standing up for. it gives us a purpose and it makes the other person feel protected and safe. let me be clear, i'm not asking you to involve yourself in others' day-to-day business, but i am calling for you to take responsibility for your peers on a basic, human level. if you see someone upset, ask them if they're okay. don't ignore them. the world needs more connection, more compassion, more active interest.

so, what is your passivity costing you?

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we teach others how to treat us by what we reinforce and what we punish. so when someone acts adversely towards you or towards another and we choose to do nothing, we're actually doing something. we're telling that person that how they're behaving is okay; we're reinforcing their actions.

B.F. Skinner, a famous psychologist and behaviourist, coined this operant conditioning. he believed that our behaviours are a product of what's been reinforced and punished throughout our lives.

how many times have you experienced or witnessed something adverse and chosen not to say anything, to 'keep the peace'? inaction is action. it's reinforcing. if someone's behaviour is not sufficiently punished when it is out of line, i can guarantee that individual will repeat that behaviour. and probably with more potency and pain too.

when people witness something adverse, their response is often to not get involved. to not choose a side. but no side is taking a side. what we don't stand up for, we're agreeing with. keeping the peace does nothing more than reinforce to the perpetrator that their behaviour is okay. human beings have an innate ability to know what is right and just, but by not involving oneself in situations that are unjust, we are saying it's okay to treat others poorly; to be unjust.

so how do you punish someone's behaviour? firstly; focus on the behaviour, not the person. secondly; be firm. the punishment has to be severe enough to deter that individual from attempting that behaviour again. any weak stance ends up being reinforcing. thirdly; be consistent. any inconsistent punishment will also serve to reinforce their behaviour because the individual will think there's a chance they can get away with it. fourthly; be prompt. any delay in the delivery means the individual will not associate their behaviour with the punishment. and lastly; punishment is more successful when something is taken away (negative punishment). so if someone has said something adverse, cease communication for a period of time. this time and space also provides a platform for the individual to reflect and take accountability for their actions.

so what behaviour in your life have you been inadvertently reinforcing? and how can you apply these principles of punishment to alter that individual's behaviour? remember, inaction is action. no side is a side. and a friend to all is a friend to none. do you choose comfort or do you choose what's right?

"in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

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  • nicole calder

i've often been thinking about how you can make people feel valued without costing an organisation a lot of money. here are some ideas:

1. say hello and goodbye

every morning, every shift, every day. be intentional about acknowledging your peers. what this does is communicates that you see them; they're important.

2. uniforms

make sure they look like everyone else. the first thing i do with any new players at our club is organise for them to get a training shirt. it's a small gesture, but it makes people feel like they belong, like they're a part of the team.

3. appreciation

be intentional about showing your appreciation, no matter how small their efforts might seem. if it's been a really difficult shift, thank them for their efforts. if they've been struggling, thank them for still showing up. you have to reinforce the good - if you don't, people will stop trying.

4. listen

listen to their ideas. listen to their suggestions. and better yet, implement some of them. one person doesn't have all of the answers. tapping into your team's knowledge and perspectives is a superpower, use it.

5. acknowledge

take steps to actively acknowledge someone's value. offer them a pay rise before they ask. treat them fairly. stick to your word. be integral and proactive.

6. support

actively support your people with their other interests - watch one of their games, buy one of their paintings, share their work. write a post on social media introducing them.

7. food

offer them food. or at the very least, offer them breaks. your staff are human. humans have needs. if they're hungry or tired, i can guarantee they won't be operating optimally.

this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it's a list i've created based on the times in which i've felt both valued, and undervalued. what others ways have you felt valued?

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