In a recent cross-cultural training class I took in preparation for a trip to Africa, we looked at personality types and how those impact a group. When we discussed the results it brought out some surprising results. For example, of the five people traveling together, I am the only one who is a ‘doer’ and not a ‘waiter.’ It’s likely there will be times when I will need to step up and take charge to get answers instead of waiting around hoping someone will provide them. Four of the five of us are much more introverted than extroverted. Our lone, true extrovert will be the person putting herself forward and dragging the rest of us with her in interpersonal situations. In gaining a better understanding of our fellow travelers’ personalities, we will be able to draw on the strengths of individuals and minimize the potential for conflicts in the group.
This got me thinking about Twitter chats and how participants bring their own meaning and context to the conversation. Their perspectives determine how they answer the questions posed. It also made me think about the fact that none of us gives the exact same meaning to a word, phrase, or concept. So my chat idea turned into a revisiting of meaning. Going back to the basics and defining (or redefining) what we mean when we use the phrase ‘personal knowledge management’ can help us in many ways.
First of all, I think that discussing what we mean when we say ‘PKM’ can improve our interactions on PKMChat. My opinion about what PKM means may vary greatly from someone else’s, and knowing that can help me approach that person from a position of understanding. It promotes discussion and not conflict. If nothing else, though, I think it will help us redefine what we mean when we talk about the concept of personal knowledge management. We may find that our ideas have largely stayed the same, and we may find that we have changed our minds. Whatever the outcome, I believe we’ll all emerge with a better understanding of how we define PKM, both individually, and as a group.