The Bregman Leadership Podcast
Episode 164

Michele Gelfand

Rule Makers, Rule Breakers

Is your organization’s culture tight or loose? It’s not a duality, it’s a dynamic continuum, says Michele Gelfand, professor of psychology at the University of Maryland and author of Rule Makers, Rule Breakers. Discover why ‘best practices’ aren’t the best solutions, why the best leaders deploy tightness and looseness in the organization to manage and resolve conflicts, and why understanding the science of social norms can help you identify potential problem areas in your organization.

Video

About

Website: Michelegelfand.com
Book: Rule Makers, Rule Breakers
Bio: Michele Gelfand is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. Gelfand uses field, experimental, computational, and neuroscience methods to understand the evolution of culture–as well as its multilevel consequences for human groups. Her work has been cited over 20,000 times and has been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, National Public Radio, Voice of America, Fox News, NBC News, ABC News, The Economist, De Standard, among other outlets.

Transcript

Peter: We are here today with Michelle Gelfand. She has written the book most recently rule makers rule breakers, how tight and loose cultures wire our world. She is a professor at the University of Maryland at College Park on a professor of psychology and she’s written a lot of things. I’m sure you have not read because they’ve been in academic journals, but this one you should read because it’s a for people like your inmate and, and super interesting. So I actually, first of, first of all, Michelle, welcome to the Bregman leadership podcast.

Michele: Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.

Peter: I was about to just dive right in and then I remembered, no, wait, Michelle’s here. Let’s include her in this conversation. So I just want to read the first paragraph because I think it sets the stage so beautifully for your book. And then we’d love for you to talk a little bit about, you know, what we mean by tight and loose cultures. Okay. So I’ll just read this first part. It’s 11:00 PM in Berlin. Not a single car is in sight, yet a pedestrian waits patiently at the crosswalk until the light turns green. Meanwhile, 4,000 miles away in Boston at rush hour, commuters flout the do not cross line as they dart in front of cabs to the south where it’s 8:00 PM in San Paolo. Locals are frolicking and string bikinis and public parks up in Silicon Valley. It’s mid-afternoon and t-shirt at employees at Google are playing a game of ping pong and in Zurich at the Swiss bank, UBS, which for years mandated a 44 page dress code executives burning the midnight oil have barely loosened their ties. So you’re painting this picture of a, an incredibly diverse world culturally and, and hinting and foreshadowing it at the main point of your book about sort of tight and loose cultures. You know, t shirts and ties, you know, that are unloosened at midnight. Can you explain a little bit about this concept?

Michele: Sure. So I’m, I’m a cross cultural psychologist, so I study human behavior all around the world from ancient Sparta to Singapore, from Athens to Alabama and from the silicon valley into the military. And I try to understand what are the deeper cultural codes that are driving our behavior. So rather than focusing on superficial kind of characteristics like red versus blue or east versus west, religious versus secular, we try as cross-culture psychologists to really dig deeper to understand the norms and values that are driving our behavior. And that’s really what the book is about. It really addresses a fundamental aspect of human sociality, which is how strictly we adhere to social norms, arms. And it’s really interesting, like culture is invisible. We take it for granted. It’s omnipresent, but invisible and norms are just like that. So imagine a world where we don’t have social norms, where you walk outside of your house naked every day and people drive on the right or the left side of the street depending on their mood and don’t follow stop signs or imagine, you know, you’re walking in the elevator and people are facing backwards and essentially having sex everywhere and not in private settings.

Michele: Follow rules all the time.

Peter: I hate to have talked over you right when you were saying that people are having sex everywhere. No, but that was the wrong line to talk over. But so, so when you say social norm, let’s just, let’s, cause I think the clarity around the conversation will be helpful. Is this social norm? What do you mean?

Michele: So I mean these unwritten rules or behavior that we’ve invented to help create predictability, predictability and coordination across groups. Okay. And sometimes social norms are very sort of basic like, you know, cover your mouth when you sneeze or drive on the right side of the road. And certain countries say hello when you answer the phone. In fact, we need social norms. Imagine a world where you don’t have them. We could not coordinate on any basis in societies, organizations, families, we would collapse.

Peter: So what’s the difference between social norms and culture?

Michele: Well, social norms are important. Part of culture. Culture is this kind of big elephant that includes norms, values, beliefs. And we need these kinds of codes in ever to understand how we should behave, what’s appropriate in certain contexts. And we socialize our children to be good cultural citizens. This is what we call cultural intelligence. And what I find, and this is based on research across countries, across states, across organizations, even our own households that group’s very predictably in terms of how strictly they adhere to rules. I call these tight cultures and they have really very strict rules and punishments. If you deviate as compared to groups that are more permissive, that are looser, that have wider range of variable behavior, that’s acceptable. And this does, I think shit affects a lot of things all around us from politics to parenting from nations to neurons. And that’s what the books,

Peter: So it’s not that cultures either have strong social norms or not. It’s that the rule of adhering to everybody has strong social norms. It’s the, the, the requirement of the culture to adhere to those social norms is what is what is disparate between cultures, between what you’re calling tight and loose cultures.

Michele: The alters have need norms, but some have more clear norms that are reliably enforced and some have norms that are just kind of accepted when you deviate from them. But all countries, for example, have rules. But we can differentiate countries in a paper I published in science a few years ago that lean tight versus those that lean lose. So for example, in our research, Singapore, Germany, Austria, B are tight, even though they have some domains in their culture that are loose. And likewise Brazil, Greece, the u s to some extent the Netherlands beer looser. They also have some domains that are tight. But what’s really fascinating is the question of why do these differences evolve in the first place and what consequences do they have for human groups? And that’s what I addressed in the book. Because culture isn’t random. It evolves for good reasons that help us to understand why we have so much diversity around the world when it comes to the adherence to social rules.

Peter: Okay. So I want to definitely get into the why in a minute. Before that. I want to just play around with this tight loose culture concept. I’m a little more, so you mentioned Japan is a really tight culture. You know, when I think of Japan, and by the way as England, a tight culture, a loose culture,

Michele: It’s tighter than the u s in Arcadia.

Peter: Great. So that I would’ve thought the same thing. But when I think of this like underground social norms in Japan or in England, it’s like sex shops and like this bar alcoholic culture, like there’s like all this stuff that goes on. Yeah. And what you would call type culture, that feels to me like a total deviation from the social norm and maybe it’s its own social norm. So I’m curious to hear your perspective on that.

Michele: Well, this is a really good point because like I said, all cultures had some domains that are the opposite of their dominant programming in Japan, which is really pretty tight. There are certain domains where people that off steam, just like that you talked about in Iran, that tends to be pretty tight. Obviously there’s a huge underground of looseness. So you can think about these as tendencies that tend to be dominant in a culture. But then there’s certainly context where there’s looseness or tightness. Another good example is in the u s we’d be are pretty loose with some exceptions, certain states but there’s domains that are pretty tight and the tightest tends to ABAB Barb on values that are really important. Like for example, privacy’s a super important value in the United States. So we do buy up a lot of rules around privacy. I’m not just gonna show up to your house tonight and say, Hey, cook me some dinner. We really regulate that domain very strongly. We regulate human rights very strongly because it’s really a fundamental value. So when I, other cultures like New Zealand’s, they’re also loose and they have other domains that are highly regulated, like being egalitarian. So it’s really super interesting to zoom in and zoom out to find the levels of tightness and looseness in societies.

Peter: So when I think of those examples too, and I think of the u s and privacy and I think of, and you mentioned these terms in your book also this sort of idea of collective as versus individualist culture, right? That there’s a culture where it’s kind of more about me as an individual versus a collective as culture, which is all about the community and what’s, you know, and, and, and what’s appropriate within the community and the connection to the community. And when I think about dividing the world in that way, I think, well, America might be a loose culture, which might be explained by being an individual, this culture, which explains the privacy. Because if I’m an individualist, it’s like I, I don’t want you to invade my space and I want, I’m kind of libertarian. I want to do whatever I want to do. And in a collective as culture, you would see that yes we have to adhere to more social norms because it’s about the group. And by the way, it’s okay for you to come into my house at any time because it’s about the group. So I’m wondering how, like I, I’m just wondering for you to compare and contrast or look at this individualist versus collective or whether you know, kind of how that interweaves with tight versus [inaudible].

Michele: So this is a really important question. In fact, my advisor Harry tree and his and I worked a lot on the context of individual collectivism and for many years that’s all we talked about in cross-cultural psychology. And we were confounding tightness and collectivism. Turns out when I was running the science data and other studies, both preindustrial societies, US 50 states, the correlation between tightness and collective is about 0.4. And then in statistical terms, that’s not huge, just decent, but it’s really their distinct constructs. And so what you can think about is that we’ve been equating tight and collectivistic and loose and individualistic when in fact we’re missing out on the off diagonals. So, for example, Germany’s pretty individualistic, but it’s quite tight. Brazil is pretty collectivistic but it’s quite loose and a lot of other Spanish cultures follow that pattern. So they’re really distinct contexts. But what you can imagine is that now when we start to open up the cultural toolbox box, we can start looking at them in combination and start to predict some interesting thing. So it’s not one or the other. They’re related, but they’re distinct.

Peter: Okay. And you know, I one more question around this, this duality, which is generally full disclosure. I kinda don’t like dualities and I don’t like dualities because, and I don’t like, like I wrote in my latest book and, and also I wrote an article for HBR around like why I don’t like personality assessments, right? Because they, in my view, they, they simplify things to some degree that we should continue to be curious about. And that once we have the sort of, you know, easy answer, once I know you’re an ENT Jay, then I’m no longer curious about you. I just kind of know that this is sort of the profile you fit. And I’ll respond to that profile. Yeah, exactly. And so I’m curious about, and I feel like there’s a lot of complexity in your writing and in kind of how you described this and I’m, I’m just, I’m curious about the usefulness and also, and I mean that like, I’m not saying I doubt the usefulness. I’m curious about the usefulness and also the danger.

Michele: Yeah, this is a great question. I mean, first of all, tight loose is a continuum. It’s not a duality. And also it’s important, like I mentioned, that we can zoom in and try to find domains that are tight or loose in our own household. We can negotiate the levels of tight and loose. It’s a negotiable construct. It’s not static. I find that there’s reasons why it develops chronically, but it can be easily negotiated. And I do a lot with my own kids. I advocate leaders to negotiate this in their organizations when they’re getting either too tight or too loose. And so of course, so with that said, it’s not a static concept. It’s not a dichotomy. It’s a continuum and a dynamic psychologist and other scientists try to understand what we see as sort of rules for human behavior. So of course every individual to your point is unique.

Michele: Every person is unique. But we also try to understand other more parsimonious dimensions on which people vary to help us reduce the complexity and not stereotype is still sort of suggest, well, even if you have this attribute, you might be something somewhat different in different situations. But we try to come up with universal laws that help us understand and predict behavior. And if you take the perspective that everyone’s unique or every culture is so different that you can never come up with these underlying dimensions, then we don’t have much to predict. So that’s why we do it and we try to make, have a happy medium. I’m saying that to continue with dynamic and that it can be measured and it can be negotiated. So that’s Kinda how I think about it.

Peter: Right? And, and when we talk about, you know, America generally being loose and you made this great distinction, which I think is really important that that’s, you know, that it depends, right? Because there are certain states where they’re not. And I I’m, I’m Jewish from New York, my wife is Episcopalian from Savannah, Georgia. And when I go down to, and you know, and we lived in Savannah for three years and you know, Savannah is a very different culture than New York. And I wouldn’t say that like southern culture, you know, is closer to Japan in some ways. Like what I mean by that is they’ve got like really strong social norms. I would consider it to be a very tight culture with an underbelly, you know, with, with like a, you know, a sense of, of looseness coming out in ways that are, are sort of deviant from the, the sort of publicized social norm. So I’m wondering, can we really look at the u s and say it’s a certain type of culture when there’s such diversity within the states or how do we explain that diversity? Yeah. Because that’s, I want this to flow into this question of why, because you know, like why we have these cultural norms feels important.

Michele: Yeah. Well, I think I want to, but before we get into the u s would you say it’s, I want to ask you a little sort of thought experiment. So when you’re in a library, tight or loose

Peter: Well, it’s funny growing up, right? I don’t know how old you are, but growing up, I would say tight nowadays it feels like libraries are a lot looser.

Michele: August. Well, I mean, compared to a funeral funeral, tight or loose, right? So funeral tight. Okay. So we can think about, you know, party type, unless we’re in New Orleans and then in New Orleans it’s kind of Lupus parties is goose. That’s right. I mean, we can differentiate situations. So each of us constantly navigate the strength of norms. I would ask you to go into a library today and starts singing, start dancing. I’ve always tried to do this, like by norms. I just gave a talk at the navy at a grant meeting yesterday. If I was giving my talk, I started singing, dancing, great, breaking at some, and they’d be like, why did you find this crazy woman? That’s a tight situation. We constantly, as humans are navigating, strengthen doors without even realizing it. But what I find in my research is that predictably the same situation could be much tighter, could have much reduced range of behaviors that are acceptable in different cultures or different states.

Michele: And that’s what we can see us as tightness. So this is the important thing is that we actually, even at the everyday level in our everyday lives, whether it’s north or South, are actually navigating this at the situational level. And we can measure it and show that. But back to my, my point yeah. So yeah, the United States in our, in our general data analysis shows to be, or looser, we are, and this is going to get into the reason why it develops. So we’re, you know, I always ask people, why do you think groups veer tight or loose? There’s no common religion and tradition, geography. And it turns out that a pretty simple prediction that we tested was that groups that have a lot of threat, whether it’s from mother nature, constant disasters, famines or human made threat, population density invasions and other types of threats that humans in built on each other.

Michele: Those groups tend to need strong rules to coordinate your survive. Looser groups have less threat. And actually my daughter, when she was eight asked me, are we worried about Mexico and Canada invading us anytime? And of course nowadays some people think that, but the point is that the United States as a country, as a baby country has had far less conflict and natural disasters as a nation, we’re separated by two oceans from the rest, many other continents compared to East Asia and some parts of Europe. And when we measure the number of invasions over a hundred years, a number of natural disasters, the amount of population density, even going back to 1500, we see a really clear pattern. Those contexts that have a lot of threat develop stronger rules for survive. And this the same thing with the u s 50 states. The states that tend to be are tight, including the south and some parts of the Midwest, Kansas, Indiana, they tend to have a lot more disasters.

Michele: Organizations that beer tighter tend to have a lot of coordination needs, they have more threat or do they have more accountability due to public oversight. And so this principle is pretty much replicated across different levels of analysis. And that’s just to say that culture’s evolved for good reasons. Not all Thai cultures are threatened and not all loose cultures are on easy street, but it helps us to understand and predict why is, for example, why is gun band in Singapore like that seems preposterous to us like that as an American, I can judge that very ethnocentric Lee. But it turns out Singapore has 20,000 people per square mile. There’s a lot of imbalance per capita and people were chewing gum and throwing on the floor and it was causing massive problems at Singapore. It was causing trains to be delayed. It was, it was blocking sensors of elevators. So we kwan, you said guys, we have a lot of threat here. We got a band gun in the u s that would seem absolutely ridiculous. And again, not all cultural differences evolve for good reasons, but many do. And this is what as cultural psychologist, we want to try to understand how can we become a more culturally intelligent.

Peter: Right. And that sort of answers your, you shared this great experiment in the book about where people feel like they have higher population density in their immediate environment, they become tighter. And, and that explains it like, you know, the example you gave of Singapore, which is when they’re super tight, it population density and then people are smacking when they’re, when you know, smacking their food when they eat, you’re going to say, okay, from now on everyone’s only allowed to sip into soda. You know, like we’re just part of our tolerance. That’s right. But then I think also a place like New York, which is actually quite, you know, as dense as it gets, but quite loose compared to places down south or even in the Midwest where complying with social norm norms feels much tighter. Yeah. And so I’m kind of curious about like, you know,

Michele: Question. I mean, what’s interesting is that what also predicts looseness of which I would say New York is as a native New Yorker is anonymity and also a sense of diversity and a lot of mobility because it’s much harder to enforce norms and those kinds of contexts, right? And New York, as far back as 1800 I write about in the book, you know, the place that became tight or loose or about to be tight or loose in the u s also had certain founding conditions that people who settled in New York and had the Chutzpah to go out to California. We’re risk takers and this Si and I had a lot of diversity very early on. So even though New York is very densely populated, that that sense of population density is overwritten in terms of mobility and diversity and accountability. Because you know, if you don’t call out people’s norm violations, like you will in tighter contacts, then you can behave kind of strangely.

Michele: Right. Actually I’ll say that Tokyo is certainly pretty highly densely populated. But it’s very tight. Actually, and it has all that sort of thing, you know, ah, tradeoffs in terms of order. It’s very synchronized. It’s so very clean, but it’s also tends to be a little bit more ethnocentric and afraid of people who are different and loose cultures. The book, I talk a lot about this, they’re really disorganized. They have wary little synchrony and they have a lot of self regulation problems, but they tend to corner the market on openness and being open to different people and a different ideas and to change. And so this ordered and open this trade up applies to organizations, to states and to intonation.

Peter: Perfect segue. Let’s talk about organizations and, and leaders in organizations and you know, what are the implications of this for leaders?

Michele: Well, you know, it’s first of all, it’s really important to think about, we live in organizations, you know, 24, seven and we need to understand the deeper cultural codes driving our behavior. And tight loops are certainly one of them among others, but we tend to ignore it. And as I mentioned at first, it’s really important to assess the level of tightness loses in an organization. Some organizations like airlines need to veer tight. Others like startups need to veer loose, but sometimes organizations can get too extreme and this is becomes a problem. And my data suggests that moderation when it comes to tight, loose as best we might need to be or tight or loose given certain circumstances. But what happens is that some groups get too extreme. When you get to a tie, it gets too repressive and people are really afraid to disagree with people.

Michele: This was like United a couple of years ago and on the flip side you can ever realization that beer loose, they get too loose and chaotic and disorganized. I talk about Tesla recently in an op Ed that suggests that these systems are getting out of whack. They need to, in the case of the tight cultures, insert some discretion. I call this flexible tightness. On the flip side, sometimes loose organization get too loose and they need to insert some structure and I call this structured looseness and I would just mention that the best leaders are ambidextrous when it comes to tight Lewis. They know how to really deploy tightness and looseness in the organization’s innovations are great example. It requires looseness to create eight different ideas but it requires tightness to implement them. So it’s, there’s a whole chapter on site visit or a book on this concept

Peter: And your sense of the role of the leader is to help kind of manage the sort of dilute the intensity of the effect of one culture versus another. So to like sort of inject looseness a little bit into a tight culture and inject some tightness into a loose culture

Michele: When they need to. And also leaders, I, I just published an HBR paper on mergers and acquisitions between title news cultures and it’s remarkable the price tag that you see when you are big differences between tight and loose. When companies are merging, they have a lot of problems and that’s because the people in the practices and the leaders are really different in those organizations. The people in loose cultures tend to be more risk taking and they’re more open minded. They have, they have flexible practices and very informal and their leaders tend to be very visionary and collaborative cultures have very different DNA to have people who are more conscientious, who are more prevention focus. They have standardized practices that focus on efficiency and they also have leaders who are quite independent. Think Daimler Chrysler when they merged it looked like it was to be a marriage made in heaven. But what’s fascinating is that companies ignore these kind of cultural differences and they’re devout to kind of encounter that this iceberg often when it’s too late. And so this is also both within the organization to understand it, but clearly when you’re trying to merge is really critical to understand tight, loose.

Peter: And so does this in some ways defy the whole concept of best practices. Because if you’re dealing with lots of different cultures and different, different ways of impacting those cultures, then you know is, is everything in the particular and we no longer really have a best practice cause you can apply a best practice that really works in a loose culture. And if you applied it in a tight culture it might really backfire.

Michele: Well I think that’s right. I mean there’s so much about western management and textbooks training that is really based on our own values and norms. We even when we send expatriates abroad, we tend to send them abroad because they’re technically competent, not because they’re culturally competent. And I just published a paper in psych science that looks at, again, what happens when people go from type to whose cultures, which people are the most likely to adapt to a tight culture. For example. We know that it’s both personality and culture that matter and we can pinpoint what kinds of people might want you. So select your trained to go abroad to certain cultures. But often again, culture is invisible. We don’t tend to recognize it. And to that extent we can really cause a lot of problems with early return, which very expensive let alone all the Agita and aggravation that a causes from the host of the host culture.

Michele: So I want to mention also I have a tight loose mindset quiz on my website. That helps people identify their, where they be or titles. Again, we all have kind of different contexts where we are tight and loose but we can sort of think about do you generally, are you kind of with doubt liquid called an order muppet? Like you know, Kermit the frog or Bert or your chaos muffet are you more like you know, cookie monster and Ernie I know am I veer kind of loose. My husband who is also Protestant for them in West Beers tighter and you know, in the household we kind of, as mentioned earlier, we try to negotiate with the kids or the teenagers because obviously when you’re a parent you want to tighten up everything cause you’re terrified. [inaudible] That was one of my questions was are all parents tight and our old children loose?

Michele: Well, you know, actually it really is important. There is a generation effect we found recently and in fact people like Plato, we’re even talking about this like, oh the younger generation, they’re so loose. You didn’t use that term. But it seems to be something that is generational because think about it, you don’t have as much accountability when you’re younger so you can afford to be looser. But of course this varies across cultures. Most recently we’ve shown as early as three years old working class and middle class kids differ in how they react to puppets that are violating rules. Cause the working class, it has a lot of thread. They need rules and they find rules more useful. The did. They’re living in very dangerous areas. They’re worried about poverty as early as three. They’re getting the kind of a, the training from their parents that rules matter.

Michele: And when puppets violate those rules, we’ve shown this in my lab, three-year-old working class, kids are more likely to protest. So it varies by group. It varies by culture. Even if we know that kids are looser than, than their parents, but it’s negotiable. So that’s the more important point. And let’s say just one to think about. Oh yeah, I love it. Give us just a minute on any advice you have for managing tight, loose conflict. Well, you know, first and foremost, culture starts with the self. So you, it’s really thinking about where, where are you in terms of tight, loose and why? Like why might you have about that? Because I have two questions about that. I just told you to do this in a minute. But two question about that. One is like the difference between self assessment and other assessment. Meaning I might say, you know, I’m pretty tight and my wife might

Peter: Say, are you kidding me? You are so loose. And the other is certainly like with states in the u s there are areas in which I’m very tight and there areas in which I’m very loose. And so I would be hard pressed and maybe the loose part of me does not want to put myself in a box, but I’ll be hard pressed and saying, am I losing? You’re tight.

Michele: Yeah. Well I mean again, it’s domain specific. So once we start zooming into different domains, I mean, for example, I’m Lewis when it comes to how messy I am around the house and there’s no difference in self and other assessment on that. I’m pretty tight in terms of my expectations on how much the kids are going to work and have a healthy lifestyle. But I’m really very loose in terms of their bedtime in their curfew. I’m really loose when it comes to language. I constantly cursing. My kids have to tell me, watch your language, mom. So this, I mean I’m tight in this and loose in the same occupation. I’m loose when it comes to coming up with ideas. But you in academia you have to be tight in implementing them. But it’s less,

Peter: It’s a frame. It’s like a lens through which you can look at things and a multiple set of ways. Yes.

Michele: And then you can think about the others. So the step two is I can think about the comp, what you have with your siblings. I’m about to go on vacation. Tight, loose, complex happens a lot.

Peter: Right? Any advice for managing that? It’s the, it’s the, it’s the what was the TV show with Oscar and Felix [inaudible] the outcome. How do you manage it?

Michele: He’s got he negotiation. So the most important things to think about, what matters to you the most when it comes to tightness and what can you give up on like I can give up on certain domains that I can say, you know what if my husband really prioritizes that, like loading the dishwasher, he wants it to be really tight. If that’s his priority then we trade off. So it’s really thinking about really deeply what domains are you tight or loose in what domains is, are your family or colleagues or boss tight loosen and how can you negotiate? How can you trade off and on high and low priority issues? And I talked about this in the book, but the most important things to know the vocabulary and do even be aware of it because when we’re not aware of it, we can’t negotiate it.

Peter: And there’s something else that’s interesting. So if you go, if you say I’m okay, so I’m loose with time and Eleanor, my wife is tight with time so we can get into an argument which we have in the past about whether it’s important to be on time and the people who are on the tight side will say, of course it’s like such a stupid argument to be at. Of course it’s important to be on time and those of us on the other side might say actually it’s not like you might be in a conversation that’s more important than being in time or you might be. And so like, and by the way you get late somewhere in the party hasn’t even started yet. So does it really matter? And I think partly what I’m hearing you saying and what my answer to is this is that it’s actually, there is no right answer. Meaning we will constantly disagree. But if you want to manage that conflict, then you say, wow, it seems like it’s really important to you that we’d be on time. To me it’s not really important to me that I’d be late. It’s just not important to me that I’d be on time, but I can. But I will. Given that it’s so important to you, then I’m going to cross that barrier, that bridge, and we don’t have to get into a conversation about whether it’s quote unquote important in the abstract.

Michele: Yeah. And also you can say, are there certain contexts where this is so important to you? You can even further zoom in and say, this is this the golden rule on these particular occasions, but we’re going to loosen up when it comes to when we were brought in at a restaurant. But also then you have to, as a really good negotiator, say, these domains are really important for me to loosen and you gotta loosen up in those domains. So I mean, again, you have to vocabulary and having the kind of set up in a domain. Well you get trade up. Well, yeah, I think Todd gets crazy around the house because it’s a mess and we, and he’s, he definitely would much prefer, he’s got three girls, two birds and a dog that are all pretty messy. But on other domains he can negotiate the tightness and so I think you know like any negotiation is hard work.

Michele: It’s not going to come easy, but it’s so satisfying when you you know, can really make that work. A and my kids said to me, I didn’t realize this. They said, mom, if we treated each other poorly you would beat us. I mean I wouldn’t beat my kid. I’m a nice person, but they sorta got that memo to that informally through my behavior that this is a really important domain, but they also, like I said, language is not a big deal and and how messy ours on a Bagel, we’ll see Jeanette, my oldest is going off to college in a couple of days. We’ll see how that has, how our roommate handles that. Actually I think there’s a lot of conflict between roommates on this. It could be something we build into assessments and so forth.

Peter: Yeah. It would actually be smart to have actually to to have an assessment to sort of support roommates and managing the dynamic between them. I love it. We’ve been talking with Michelle Gelfand. Her new book is rule makers, rule breakers, how tight and loose cultures wire our world. Michelle, it has been a pleasure talking with you saying thank you so much for being on the Bregman leadership podcast.

Michele: Thank you for having me. It was great.

 

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