From the title of this blog, it may be difficult to guess what it will be about. If you type contraxioms into a computer or google, you will most likely get a red squiggly line beneath the word and no real definition. Go ahead, try it. In order to understand what it means we must look at the definition given in the book “The Geek Leader’s Handbook”, by Glen and McManus. It is defined as “A matched pair of contrasting axioms that give rise to vastly different world views”. Basically, a word or idea that means two very different things to different people. In this case, Geeks and non-Geeks.
In this book, there are seven different words or phrases that Geeks and non-Geeks do not see eye to eye on. These are: work, futures, know, language, lying, good and evil and desire. For the sake of time and your boredom, I will not go through each and every one, but only the ones I find important.
First, language is very important when trying to bridge the gap between Geeks and non-Geeks. Since it is our primary form of communication, being able to understand each others language is vital. However, even when both parties are speaking the same form, for example, English, it does not mean they understand. For Geeks, language is simple. Say what you mean and mean what you say. It is for communicating information from one person to another. They see no need for wasting words and beating around the bush. For non-Geeks, it is about sharing meaning. I’m sure there have been times when you were in a situation where either your sarcasm or someone else went unnoticed causing confusion in the interaction. This is an example of non-Geeks sharing meaning behind the words. A Geek would wonder why not just say what you mean instead of saying the opposite and hoping the other person figures out what you mean?
The second main thing I want to focus on from this chapter is Good and Evil. This also translates to black and white. Geeks tend to be black and white in their thinking, or binary. Geeks are by the book, rules apply to everyone and fairness is best. However, this is not aways the case. The world is not fair. Especially in business and working with Geeks, which this books talks about, things are not always fair. Some people might make more money than others, some people might work less, some people might have easier jobs, whatever the case, there are differences. The world is not black and white as much as Geeks would like it to be. Some rules do no apply to everyone, but they should. if I am making $50,000 a year at a company I have worked at for 10 years, and a new hire comes in and starts making $55,000 year it does not seem fair. Maybe we do the same job, or maybe he went to a better school, or maybe he had offers at other companies, but it still does not make sense to a Geek that he should be making more if we’re doing similar jobs and I have been working there longer. However, as you can see, there are a lot of factors that go into it.
When dealing with people who see the world differently, the most effective way to proceed is to simply be aware. Being aware that someone might see something in a different way than yourself can eliminate a lot of problems. Furthermore, being able to communicate in both these styles will be valuable when working with different people. Providing a connection between two groups that have a hard time understanding each other is extremely helpful.