It’s not uncommon in communication for a hidden message to take on more importance than what’s actually said.
Example: you’re a workshop technician and you’re waiting for your colleague, Tibor, to finish some welding so you can assemble a cryostat that needs to be delivered to an experiment next week. Tibor’s work has been held up by a late delivery that’s beyond his control. You’re probably going to have to make up the time yourself by working overtime. You say to him:
People often ask me: “But what can you do for us in practical terms? What actions can you take?”
In prehistoric times, there were only two ways to resolve a conflict: fight or flight. And there was always a winner and a loser. Then, one day, someone discovered a revolutionary new approach: negotiation, or aiming to find a solution that satisfies the interests of both parties. No more fight or flight, and everyone’s a winner! Unfortunately, the human brain is still programmed like it was in prehistoric times and doesn’t always have a natural negotiation reflex. This is why we have so many difficulties in dealing with conflicts.
How can we resolve a conflict?
Just this once, my article is not going to be about a specific subject. I simply wanted to take the opportunity to wish you all the very best for the New Year.
I wish you:
We’re working to increasingly busy schedules, under escalating pressure and with almost constant connectivity due to the increasing number of communication tools and applications available to us. We feel obliged to garner as many “like”s as possible and collect as many “friends” as we can. Most of us have made this permanent availability and service part of our daily lives and have adapted to it very well. But for some 15 to 20% of the population, these constant external stimuli present a real challenge.
In a previous article, I explained the framework in which the Ombud operates. I will now talk about how a discussion is conducted and what we can do together.
The deluge of reactions and accounts of abuse since the Weinstein affair hit the headlines has led me to reflect on a sometimes hidden problem: sexual harassment.
“I had been a fellow for six months and went to a conference with my colleague. He was an engineer of around the same age as my father, universally respected by his peers and with a solid reputation in his field. The evening we arrived at the hotel he invited me to dinner and made it obvious what he wanted, despite acting in quite a paternal way towards me.”
Like my predecessors, Vincent and Sudeshna, to whom I wish to pay tribute, I would like to share my thoughts with you in Ombud’s Corner. This first article will be a chance for you to get to know me and a chance for me to remind you of the framework in which the Ombud operates.
First of all, I am deeply honoured that CERN’s Director-General has entrusted me with this sensitive role, which I will hold for the next four years.
“Nothing will change” is one of the complaints often heard in the Ombud’s Office. However, four years after taking on the role of the CERN Ombud and a few days before retiring, I would like to assert that things do change, albeit sometimes very slowly, and that, by addressing issues constructively, we can all influence each other to ultimately bring about the changes that we seek in our environment.