August 30, 2013
Is there room for punishment in progress-focused work?
Punishment and the progress-focused approach do not seem to fit well with one another. An example: the progress-focused approach assumes a growth mindset, the belief that people can change and grow by putting in effort. Research has shown that people with a growth mindset are less inclined to label, stereotype, and punish people.
Punishment can backfire, for example when punishment comes too late, when it is too harsh, and when it is not clear what the reason for the punishment is. Also, punishment is not likely to be successful when the people for whom it is intended are not so sensitive for punishment and are not easily deterred by it.
At the same time, it is a fact that punishment is part of our society and of all our institutions. Nearly always, punishment plays some role in schools and in raising kids. It is hard to imagine social interactions and cooperation in which punishment plays no role at all. It may be indispensable. And it may work. Punishing someone who breaks the rules can help to prevent damage for others.
This example shows that even in solution-focused facilitation the threat of punishment may play an important and positive role.
My question is: What do you think? Is there a valuable role for punishment in this approach? If yes, when, and how?
Author: Coert Visser