It has often been said that “good fences make good neighbors.” The idea is that the different families need clear and specific boundaries that (physically or psychologically) limit the crossing of the boundaries. Yet, the neighbors may share the same fence (even though one may own the fence and have put it up). The fence represents the interface between the two systems. There is the physical boundary, but it also marks a clear line of ownership and rights. Consider the neighborhood as a collection of multiple family systems, each separate, but connected at the interface between each yard (there are more interfaces than just the fences by the way). For this discussion, imagine the Smith family is less social and wants to often be left alone, yet is friendly and interacts with the Green family next door from time to time. They don’t mind the Green’s borrowing their tools, but expect them to ask first and to return them immediately. The fence between them, in their mind, prevents them from coming and using what they want when they want. It also creates a psychological boundary that says, “We want our space”. The Greens however are very social, and want to interact with the Smiths and other neighbors every day. They invite them over for dinner at least twice a week, and go over to visit the Smiths whenever they are outside doing something. The Greens also do not honor boundaries well, and have been known to go through the fence, into the Smith’s shed and borrow tools without asking. Because they do not mind the Smiths doing the same thing with their tools, they don’t notice the boundaries that exist. This results in a bit of friction between the systems (zone of turbulence / turbulence at the interface). At some point, the Greens and Smiths will need to arrive at a state where they can interact well with each other, perhaps at a balance between the two perspectives. Discuss how you think this process may look, how the systems will interact, and what you think the outcome may be after some time of interaction. Discuss what “input / output” is taking place and may take place in the future. How will “feedback loops” work in this system? What do you think may happen between the two systems based on the interactions between the systems, knowing how systems interactions work? How will they work this out? Will it be intentional or unintentional? What will the various feedback loops do to the other system (for example, How might Mr. Smith’s communication about not wanting Mr. Green to borrow things without asking affect Mr. Green’s interactions with Mr. Smith)?
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