There's a time to be straightforward and a time to be indirect with our message. There is content that calls for simply telling people what it is and content that calls for working with people's complex ways of thinking about it for themselves. There's a time to give people clear explanations and a time to give people more to talk through with others.
When we get this timing wrong, we come across as propagandistic. We appear to be brainwashing the people we intended to inform. We seem to be indoctrinating them, instead of educating, encouraging or engaging them. We give off the impression we're telling people what to think, instead of how, when and why to think things through differently. At these times, we need to "doctor the indoctrination" we had presumed to be harmless and helpful.
Indoctrination can prove to be mildly poisonous. It can induce a significant loss of interest, curiosity, attention and self motivation. It can provoke defensive postures, closed minds and opposing arguments. Indoctrination can even undermine the presenter's credibility, earned respect and leadership following. It can undermine implicit cooperation with tactics that appear controlling, coercive and manipulative. It can ask for passive compliance instead of initiative, integrity and self reliance. Indoctrination is usually bad medicine which deadens the recipients.
There are many ways to doctor indoctrination that I've had success with when making my presentations, conducting my workshops and teaching my classes. In this next series of blog posts, I'll review what has worked for me thus far, and explore some new ways I've discovered recently.