Why we seek some understanding...not just advice....
when we're working with a tenant around a specific problem we're
tempted to say "do this" and I know that I get impatient with lawyers
who say "one the one hand... and on the other hand..." but giving
context is important. Many of our program participants who THINK they
understand "their rights" are inclined to adopt rigid ideas about how
rights work. This is underscored by recent study with a provocative
title "Extreme Political Attitudes May Stem from an Illusion of
Understanding" reported in Science Daily. The basic premise of the study
is that fundamentalist positions ("right
is right") arise from the belief that rights
exist INDEPENDENT of facts and processes. Take free speech, for
instance, and the common sense notion that, despite the first amendment
you are not allowed to yell "fire" in a crowded theater. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429130543.htm.
program participants understand how rights work in real life and the
balances between competing "rights" can help prevent errors and
misunderstandings based on a naive view of the world of law. The
summary of the study says: "The research suggests that people may hold
extreme policy positions because they are under an illusion of
understanding -- attempting to explain the nuts and bolts of how a
policy works forces them to acknowledge that they don't know as much
about the policy as they initially thought."
One example is
"knock and enter". Yes. Landlord Tenant Law says a landlord may enter a
tenants unit after giving a 24 hour notice, except in case of
emergency...but the law also says (in two different locations that entry
must be at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner and that a
tenant is obliged to permit "reasonable" requests for entry. (PS: this
issue is one that both landlords and tenants get wrong in BOTH pre and
post tests when i do training and after I have explained the context).
the context, rather than "advice" to a program participant helps the
program participant solve the problem from a practical standpoint.
the need to provide context rather than answers is another reason that
forming a helping relationship (not just a casual phone encounter) is a
critical step in the helping process.