[April 22, 2014] In the previous two parts of this series (Part 1 andPart 2), I proposed the idea that people who experience frequent stressors in their lives, have greater mental resilience. Today, I’m proposing that many of these bureaucratic programs designed to reduce stressors will ultimately fail in achieving their goals.
One thing we know but rarely acknowledge, is that we do not know the cause of social problems or why people act out against others, racism, sexism, etc. Therefore, it follows, that the affect of any program we introduce, cannot by its very nature be measured with any true accuracy.
For example, one common program is designed to prevent sexual harassment. These come in many varieties but are common in large public organizations. The programs have benefits and that is undeniable. However, the question is still out on whether they are effective. My argument is that most of these programs generally make things worse.
What is disturbing is that any improvements that actually do occur will surely be attributable to the program and not to something perhaps unrelated. Likewise, any worsening of the problem may be attributed to something that we cannot control. The problem with these programs is that risks can be hidden because there has been inadequate time to study the long-term effects.
Furthermore, we all have a bias to “just do something.” We see this common in organizations that have some levels of public scrutiny (e.g., the military, government agencies, political organizations). The effect long term of these sexual harassment prevention programs is to reduce the minor stressors by shielding people, making them mentally weaker and exposing them to greater risks because they lack experience at coping with small events.
We have created an environment of low expectations, of shielding our employees and followers, and not strengthening their mental abilities. While we academically teach coping mechanisms and various techniques to be strong, we prevent them from obtaining realistic experiences.
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