This topic comes around for me periodically. I’m not neutral on the topic of neutrality.
I know that it has it’s place – as everything does. I also know that neutrality wants to stick it’s nose where it doesn’t belong. It’s probably more accurate to say that people want to shove it where it doesn’t belong.
I can tell you three places where it doesn’t belong. Maybe you have a few others you can add to the list.
- Facilitating. I’ve heard people ask for a neutral facilitator, as if it were a good thing. An effective facilitator is not neutral. They’re not there to be witnesses to whatever happens, They need to be driving towards some goal, outcome, result or experience. Perhaps the desired outcome is defined by the organization, or the participants…but it is an agenda and it isn’t neutral. Now that doesn’t mean that they should bring their OWN biases and agenda. I think that’s what most people think they’re preventing when they say they want a neutral facilitator.
- Life coaching. There’s a school of coaching, literally The Life Coach School, that uses something called the model as the foundation of all coaching. It’s based on the premise that all circumstances are neutral and it is only our thoughts about the circumstances that shape our actions and our reality. This model leads to some really messed up coaching, things like victim shaming, denial of traumatic experiences, ignoring other treatment options and so much more. (I’m not neutral about that school of coaching nor the founder, as you can tell.) It is true that changing our perspective and our thoughts about our circumstances can be a very effective coaching tool. It just doesn’t need to be based on a premise that circumstances are neutral – because that’s a lie. Which leads to #3.
- In the face of injustice. Circumstances can absolutely be unjust, unfair, and hurtful…and neutrality doesn’t belong there, either. A bias and actions towards good are required if we want to do our part to make this work a better place, and to positively impact the lives of others. We do want that, right?
- I said three, I meant four. There are times when circumstances are wonderful and should be enjoyed, celebrated and remembered. We can’t forget that goodness and beauty and magic and miracles all exist, too, right? None of that is neutral!
In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!
Love, and light in the pages,