Page 18 - WV811 2023 issue 1
P. 18

Damage Prevention Point of View
 Nobody wants damages to occur, but the solution to
the problem depends on our point of view. What is obvious is that no one person can solve the problem by himself. Somehow, we must find better ways to work together that builds on our point of view.
A story is told about six blind men
who went to see an elephant to get to know what it was really like. The first approached the elephant and touched its side. “Bless me, but the elephant is very much like a wall,” he said. The second touched a tusk and was amazed at how very round and smooth and sharp it was. “The elephant is like a spear,” he said. The third happened to touch the trunk and quickly concluded that the elephant was like a snake. The fourth reached down and touched a knee. “It is clear enough, the elephant
is very much like a tree,” he said. The fifth man, who touched an ear, said it was obvious that the elephant was very much like a fan. The sixth happened to seize on the swinging tail and concluded that the elephant is very much like a rope. So the six men argued loud and long, each convinced that he was right.
The shouting in the courtyard soon awakened the rajah, who looked out of his palace and saw the six quarreling men. “Stop!” he called down to them, commanding their attention. “The
elephant is a big animal, each man touched only one part. Therefore, each of you are partly in the right and all are in the wrong. In order to understand what an elephant is like you must put all the parts together.”
We agree with the rajah’s perspective and believe that working together is made possible by a willingness to sit down together to better understand
the other person’s perspective. While
we all have a common goal of working safely, there are specific issues that must be considered before we can arrive at common solutions.
Some say at least we have people sitting at the table with us now. And while that may be true, unfortunately many times they aren’t the people who disagree with us. We are still struggling in the art of listening to understand one another because in too many cases, our disagreements are disagreeable.
The municipalities will have different perspectives than the excavators working in their cities. The contract locators will have perspectives that do not align with the utility’s standard operating procedures. One call systems oft times do not take into consideration the difficulties encountered by rural water systems. When disagreements occur, shouting and finger-pointing usually lead to nothing but additional problems.
It seems like almost all stakeholders agree that damages don’t help anyone, so arguing loud and long like the six blind men likely won’t help bring about a solution.
Asking the question, “Why did this damage occur?” will often be answered based on our perspectives rather than the facts.
It is human nature to disagree, in
part because we see things or process information differently. That’s why we react differently. So the judge of our character is not how we see things, but our reaction to how others view them.
Perhaps the greatest judge of our character and leadership skills is how we’ve learned to listen to another’s point of view without thinking we
are absolutely right and that they are absolutely wrong!
It is vital for stakeholders to stop shouting in the courtyards, board rooms and meeting halls so as to recognize the value of listening to one another’s point of view in order to put all the parts together.
What does a fair and effective damage prevention law or program look like? We may never know if we keep our blindfolds on and lobby for our own point of view.
None are as blind as they who will not see.
16 • West Virginia 811 2023, Issue 1

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