Report on Psychology Group Meeting - Meeting, Friday, 19 May 2017

I should begin by apologising to everyone for my typo error in the reminder I sent out for this meeting. I honestly thought I had typed 19th as the date but as you’re probably aware had in fact typed in the 18th. I had followed my usual routine of proof reading, albeit in a hurry, and used the spellchecker yet the mistake slipped through. As a psychology group I think it’s worth considering how this might happen. Cognitive psychologists tell us that when we read there is a marked tendency to read what we expect to read rather than what is actually on the printed page. This is particularly were an error is grammatically correct and especially when it is what we have written ourselves. Thus, they usually advise that someone else should proof read for you as they are less sure of what to expect. Also of course the number 8 is next to 9 on the keyboard and is a very similar shape. OK you might think it’s a bit thin but they are my excuses and I’m sticking to them, I just hope that no one turned up at The Owl instead of the U3A monthly meeting.

Our agenda originally stated that ‘Office Politics and Triadic Personalities@ was to be our topic but it had occurred to me in something I had read that the national U3A recommends the re-election of group leaders every two years or so as a way to allow group members to express their confidence or otherwise in the way the group is being run. As our attendance was small with so many people being away I assumed that we would defer this to a later meeting. I suddenly found, however, that I had been nominated and seconded as the group leader and the vote to appoint was carried overwhelmingly. Though I had the feeling that this was all a little tongue in cheek in the best Blairite tradition I announced that in all humility I could not defy the will of the membership and humbly accepted the post of group leader.

We then moved on to our topic of office politics. Though I managed to read some of the work of the work of clinical psychologist Oliver James on this subject where he writes of what he calls the triad of narcissistic, psychopathic and Machiavellian personality types we all then gave many examples of our own experiences in this field. Though this may often seem to be going off at tangents from the agenda at any of our meetings members can describe experiences from many working lifetimes of the issues under discussion. When I tried to return to the prepared material members pointed out that this was not a flaw in the style of our meetings but an interesting advantage which injected the spice of personal experience in to flavour of our gatherings.

As time was pressing we decided to watch a short 14 minute You Tube video clip from TEDx presented by Chris Suave with the curious title, “Highly Boring People”. This caught my eye so I downloaded and watched it for myself. You can catch perhaps the intention of the clip from his quote from Gustave Flaubert which reads, “Be boring and orderly [ie: structured and organised] in your life so that you may be violent [ie: exciting or enthusiastic] and original in you work”. Though only short in duration the speaker’s analysis and recommendations gave us much food for thought and I’m happy to show the clip again at our next meeting if members so wish.

We meet again on Friday the 16th June at The Owl from 2 to 4 pm and as ever if you notice anything in the press or have a video clip of interest to show please do bring them along for us to consider. I look forward to meeting you then.

John Moore - Group Leader
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