20111126-171134.jpgInteresting to read, this week, that our recollection of painful surgery records only two coordinates – the peak of pain, and how much it hurt at the end. Duration is curiously absent, as a significant part of our recollection of pain.

This certainly fits with my memory of the handful of times I’ve been operated on. All I remember is the ‘peak pain’ of the sharp, intense – and after several repeats, increasingly unbearable – pain of multiple local anaesthetic injections going in, before they start to work.

As for the end, just a curious mixture of dull and sharp pain – like a cross between a paper cut and a bad bruise. It is as if we remember the horror moment. And how the story ends. But nothing in-between…

I was talking to someone this week about painful relationships between organisations – and I wondered out loud, if it’s the same. You remember the worst they did to you, and how it was last time you saw them, but – as with pain – not much in-between.

This is an interesting thought. At work, is it your worst behaviour – personal or organisational – which scars the deepest? And is how you ‘are’ next, your considerable opportunity for major salvation.

It might mean worrying a lot less about situations and relationships which have been bad for ages. Only attend to them when you can do something significant to change how the ‘story’ ends.

Dysfunctional relations between organisations and people are part and parcel of the world of work. Treating them like pain might be an interesting approach – mitigate the worst pain, worry less about the duration of discomfort. And attend to them, only, when you can make things a lot better.

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