supervision matters
C O N S U L T I N G - T R A I N I N G - C O A C H I N G

Matters of Supervision
February 2021
Issue 147
Dear Friend ,

We are starting to see signs of spring in California – even as much of the country faces unprecedented cold.  While the flowers are lovely; we desperately need rain.  I feel that way personally too.  Everything is fine right now, but I find myself worrying about the aftereffects of the pandemic and the long separations from friends and loved ones that we have experienced.  

I am thinking about the fact that how things look does not always match with the reality.  This month’s article is 413 words and will take less than 2 minutes to read.  (Special thanks to Dorian who provided the link and the seed for this article.)

Looks Can Be Deceiving
Have you seen those photos of cakes that totally look like something else?  A pickle, an onion, a coffee cup, a hand . . . it is bizarre. It messes with your head because the photos totally look like one thing and then they are cut open to reveal that they are in fact, a cake.  Click Here to See

These photos are a good reminder that things are not always what they seem.  What looks like calm, can sometimes cover seething resentments underneath the surface.  What looks like conflict can sometimes be a healthy and productive exchange of ideas.  What looks like objective hiring, might be biased exclusion.  And what looks like fair evaluations, might in fact be subjective assessments. 

What we see is interpreted based on past learnings, understandings, experiences and practices.  If we have learned that it is important to be nice at all times, then we take the harmony at face value because that is what we want to see.  If we are conflict avoidant, then any spirited difference of opinion will scare us.  If our understanding is that the best person for the job most likely will look and think like us, then our bias feels objective.  And if our evaluation practices depend on individual assessments, then there is a good chance that subjectivity is interfering with our intention to be fair.   

In addition to our individual interpretations, there is a very good chance that our unquestioned work practices are rooted in white supremacy values like perfectionism, urgency, either/or thinking and competition.  If we do not question what we see and do, we will replicate oppressive behaviors, thoughts, and practices. 

It can be difficult to catch our interpretations; they are quick and quiet. Here are a few tools I try to carry in my metaphorical toolbox: 
  • What if I I’m wrong about what I am seeing/doing? 
  •  How else could this be interpreted?  
  •  Does this practice support openness and equity? 
  •  Is there a way I can test my interpretation? 

Asking these questions does not guarantee that I will unlearn misguided interpretations, but it can open the door to questioning what has not yet been questioned.  And eventually, it can open the door to a healthier and more equitable workplace. 

A cake disguised as a pickle is a fun and playful deception but in the workplace we must root out the practices that look fine on the surface but are poisoning our efforts to be a thriving and value-driven workplace.    
  • Think of a time when you made an interpretation that turned out to be untrue.  What was the circumstance and what was the outcome?  How did you feel after? 
  • When do our interpretations need to be challenged?  
  • How have dangerous practices become part of our work culture and what does it take to challenge or change those practices?   
1:1 Coaching

It can be difficult to recognize our own limiting interpretations and learned behaviors that no longer support our values.  Our interpretations are based on our assumptions and assumptions, by definition, are part of how we think; we do not doubt or challenge them. It can be helpful to have a thought partner to help you recognize assumptions that may be getting in the way of your work.  Or to recognize when and how interpretations could make you a less than user-friendly supervisor. A coach can help you uncover dangerous assumptions that disrupt your effectiveness. Be the supervisor you want and need to be to help your team succeed. Call me to find out more about coaching.  (707) 578-4318
In less than 6 months my new book, Leading for Justice, will hit the shelves. I am excited to show you the cover now.
My 1st book, Supervision Matters, is still available in the usual place.
A Moment of Wonder: Insects!
Stepping into moments of wonder can help us to be more curious, more grateful and more open.

  • Bees have 5 eyes
  • Bees are insects, so they have 6 legs
  • Male bees in the hive are called drones
  • Bees fly about 20 mph
  • Female bees in the hive (except the queen) are called worker bees
  • Number of eggs laid by queen: Up to 2,000 per day is the high
  • Losing its stinger will cause a bee to die
  • Bees have been here about 30 million years!
  • Bees carry pollen on their hind legs in a pollen basket or corbicula
  • An average beehive can hold around 50,000 bees
  • Foragers must collect nectar from about 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey
  • The average forager makes about 1/12 th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime
  • Average per capita honey consumption in the US is 1.3 pounds
  • Bees have 2 pairs of wings
  • The principal form of communication among honey bees is through chemicals called pheromones
  • Bees pollinate approximately 130 agricultural crops in the US including fruit, fiber, nut, and vegetable crops. Bee pollination adds approximately 14 billion dollars annually to improved crop yield and quality.
  • In a recent discovery, researchers found that "bouncer" bees will stop bees who are “drunk”on nectar from returning to the hive. 


Rita Sever, MA l Supervision Matters
(707) 578 - 4318
Copyright 2021 Rita Sever. I distribute the Supervision Matters newsletter without charge and grant permission to recipients to share the current issue of this newsletter to personal contacts for non-commercial purposes only. All other rights are reserved, and requests for copying and distribution of these works may be made to