The Dragon Reborn - Chapter 38 [#103]

Culture Shock

    Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve begin walking from the stuck river boat to Jurene.  They find themselves sidetracked by a group of Aiel, searching for someone to help heal one of their wounded comrades.  The exchange between the two groups of women reveals plenty of ignorance and misconception on both sides. 

    "I am Egwene al'Vere," she told them.  They seemed to expect more, so she added, "Daughter of Marin al'Vere, of Emond's Field, in the Two Rivers."  That seemed to satisfy them, in a way, but she would have bet they understood it no more than she did all these septs and clans.  It must mean families, in some way.
    "You are first-sisters?"  Bain seemed to be taking in all of three of them.
    Egwene thought they must mean sisters as it was used for Aes Sedai, and said "Yes," just as Elayne said "No."

Egwene, Elayne and Bain, The Dragon Reborn, p. 363
    Bain looked at her as if she had announced the sky was blue, or that rain fell from the clouds.  The glance she gave Egwene and Elayne said perhaps they did not know these things.
Bain, The Dragon Reborn, p. 364
    As you say, Aes Sedai.  But the old stories are all clear on one point.  We must never fight Aes Sedai.  If you bring your lightnings and your balefire against me, I will dance with them, but I will not harm you."
Aviendha, The Dragon Reborn, p. 365

    The groups of women start slowly working through their misconceptions; primarily through the use of patient questions and answers.  Both groups were completely respectful of the other (minus some angry words from Nynaeve as she prepared to heal the wounded Aielwoman), facilitating a healthy dialogue.  All organizations have their own culture, mannerisms, processes and nuances.  Stepping in new requires that same respectful, questioning attitude.  Starting a conversation with "Help me to understand why...." engages people more positively than "I think you should do things this way..." or (even worse) "You're doing this all wrong..."  There may be perfectly valid methods behind the madness, or it may simply be chaos that needs some order.  Asking questions, ever more questions, allows the new leader to gather that information and assess the overall culture of the organization.  One of my new supervisors is doing that right now - going to people, asking questions, spending time trying to understand.  Coming to me questions and trying to explain his viewpoints.  Asking for patience as he comes up to speed.  It's a welcome change from some other folks I've seen in the past where it's immediately "my way or the highway."

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