In an academic sense, this attempt at sensemaking is what British sociologist, Anthony Giddens, refers to as applying social reflexivity. He talks about social reflexivity as a concept we as individuals use to examine how societal transformations influence our own self-view in a new context. So in effect, we are being shaped by not only what we see and hear about us in our immediate space, but also in the wider world.
I am currently slogging my way through a Doctorate in Professional Practice, and a key development from my learning is to be more reflexive in my thinking. What does this mean for me and how do I apply it? I try to zoom out and consider how my presence and perspective have been changed by my own experience and observations, and then consider, ‘what does that mean for my professional practice?’ As part of this approach, I am trying to consciously pause and slow down, take a step back, and consider my thoughts, feelings, and actions, while also continuing to be aware of the perspective of others. That is not always easy, in fact, it can at times be quite hard as it does require some deep reflection.
Perhaps like me, you struggle to engage in this form of ‘slow thinking’ and not rush as the avalanche of work floods into your email inbox, or the constant requests you get. How many of us receive a message, ‘I know you are busy, but could you find time to do this task …’ I know for me this has been a trigger, as I have felt my blood pressure rise as I contemplate how am I going to add even more work into my very full workload, especially as saying, ‘no’ is not an option! However, by applying my slow thinking principle to think reflexively, I can manage and ideally reduce my workload. By slowing down I am more conscious of my feelings and emotions without being overwhelmed by them and ending up in that continuous downward spiral of procrastination.
By consciously adding, ‘what next?’ to the proceeding action steps of, ‘so what’ and ‘what so’, I know I make better decisions by giving time to process, consider, and plan what to do next. By acknowledging my feelings and seeking a sense of balance in the situation, I have time to breathe and destress. We live in fast-moving times where we can feel out of control when life and work merge into one – it’s like someone has removed the ‘off switch’. In some ways, it seems just a blink ago that we returned to work at the start of 2023, and now we are a quarter of the way through the year with the Easter holiday break fast approaching.