Insights from Linguistics, part two
by Dr. Ichak Adizes
In a lecture to YPO in St. Moritz the chief Rabbai of the Swiss Jewish community was in the audience. I always think about what is applicable to my audience and as I lecture I think and on the spot create what will apply to them.
I was lecturing about the indespensibility of conflict created by change: Whenever there is change necessarily there will be conflict; we think differently as what to do about the opportunities and threats created by change and our interests are impacted differently by those changes and thus we also react differently.
The way to make this inevitable conflict to be constructive rather than destructive is by creating a climate of mutual trust (have faith in eventual common interests) and have mutual respect to learn from others whose opinion is different than ours.
And how do we create mutual respect? By surrounding ourselves with people from whom we can learn not inspite of them thinking differently but because they think differently. Those people are called colleagues. And the word comes from Latin: “co” means together and “legum” means arrive, arrive together. They did not START together but through listening to each other’s argument and learning from the opposing arguments they arrive together. They have a respectful way to handle their disagreements and learn.
I look at the Rabbi in the audience and realize: wait. In Hebrew the word colleague, “Amit” comes from the same source of the word “Imut” which means there is no collegial relationships without a conflict, without confrontation. Then I also realized that the word truth “Emet” comes also from the same source, IE no one has monopoly over truth. It comes through confrontation. Conflict. As long as the conflict is handled with respect, “ie,” we learn from each other.
In Hebrew every word has a root usually of three consonants. So you analyze every word by looking for its root which explains you the meaning of the word.
A letter can be neutral to so you can put any vowel instead of consonant. Let us in English note this neutral letter as X. Thus truth colleague and confrontation all have the same root XMT. Kind of because confrontation and colleague use a deep throat X “ayeen” while truth uses an aleph.
Here is another insight from Hebrew by analyzing sources of words.
In my efforts over the years to understand what does mutual respect really mean I found one answer in the Hebrew language.
The word tolerance, patience and pain have exactly the same root: SVL. The only difference are the vowels. Tolerance is SoVLanut, patience is SaVLanut and pain SeVeL: there is no respect without tolerance. How can you learn from someone who disagrees with you unless you tolerate that. He speaks his mind? How can you tolerate without patience and to be patient and tolerant to hear, listen, and feel something you do not agree with is quite painful.
So in adizes methodology I have developed tools how people learn to handle conflict and thus be patient and tolerant and eventually learn from each other.
Here is a last one from Hebrew fro analyzing roots.
HVH as a root means present tense: NOW. When you put a “Y” in from of a verb it means “in the future.”
Now look at the name of God in its consonants: “YHVH” which means to me: “make your future today” and if you note the vowels YeHoVaH the word HOVA sounds like the word order, obligation. So, hmmm, the name of God which the Jewish religion forbids from pronouncing, if you did, my insight is that it would say “stop living in the future. Make that future be today.”