CWN 008: Juxtaposition

An interesting observation about Kafka, related to the current assignment: “Rather than curtailing his creativity, [his job at The Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute] seemed only to fuel it further.”

Sorry, I’m going to take the easy way out today, by offering an anecdote of Dilberesque irony. (I wanted to write something more inspiring, less safe, using the above observation as my starting point. But that approach just isn’t working for me today.)

My current employer requires everyone to respond each year to something called an Employee Engagement Survey, a series of statements for which employees are to record their level of agreement. Among the statements that appears every year is the following: My opinions are listened to and respected. It’s one I actually agree quite strongly with, as I feel the company and particularly my manager encourage open communication of ideas. Some of my colleagues, however, feel quite differently, and in one year our department’s agreement score on this question was notably low.

The result was quite upsetting to our former director, who cited the response’s score during a speech at an all-hands meeting. “Of course we respect everyone’s opinions.” And I agreed with her, felt empathy for her position, which didn’t happen that often; let’s just say her interpersonal skills weren’t her strong suit. Maybe that’s why she followed with this: “Anyone who doesn’t feel that way is wrong!”

So there you have my example of juxtaposition, an obvious mismatch between the speaker’s beliefs and her words which nonetheless seemed consistent with her imperious personality. It’s not much, but it’s all I’ve got for today.


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