Monday, July 6, 2009

Shared understanding

A week or two ago, Tibetan exile media headlines "Dalai Lama rejects Tibetan exile PM's offer to quit"
This is a perfect example of communication is not what you said is what they thought you said.
PM Samdhong Rinpoche meant to say to the Dalai Lama that the 2011 Tibetan PM election be preponed two years earlier, so to "give younger Tibetans the opportunities to lead responsibly". So the Dalai Lama rejected the appeal on the ground that this "may send a wrong signal to the world community".

The news of Samdhong Rinpoche's offer to quit has disappointed many of his diehard followers, who even broach the idea of electing him for a third term by reforming the Tibetan exile constitutions in 2011. Samdhong Rinpoche is known to be most effective and most competent communicator in exile political cycle. Then why his thoughtful appeal has backfired him? Did it ever occur to Samdhong Rinpoche what the people would take react to his proposal for the advancement of Kalon election? Why there was such a gulf between what Samdhong Rinpoche said and what the people understood him.

In his interview with the VOT, Rinpoche clearly mentioned that there was a big discrepancy of what he proposed to the Dalai Lama and what media quoted and projected his proposal.

Rinpoche argued that it was not a proposal to resign at all, he advanced the idea of preponing the Kalon election which is permissible under Tibetan constitution. If he propose to resign from the post, then there would be a leadership vacuum, which he didn't intend to do at all. He further said the question of resignation comes only after a candidate won the majority and elected to PM, then he would resign.

However, Some media attributed Rinpoche's resignation over differences in his administration, which Rinpoche said to be a bogus. However there was different thoughts and ideas about the preponment of Kalon election among the cabinet members, but rarely any differing views on policy matters. Speaking in his usual calm and collected manner, Rinpoche convinced that his proposal to prepone was for the the best interest of Tibetan diaspora and even giving an opportunity for the young Tibetan leaders to shoulder responsibilities.
However, no matter what was his intention, his initial unintentional message to the media has considerable damaged his reputations. His opponents used Rinpoche's so called resignation offer as a means of undermining his leadership credibility. At a meeting in Washington d.C
a prominent former Tibetan exile cabinet member, speculated Rinpoche's resignation issue as such
" All his major policy, such as on education, privatisation, and dialogue with China failed to bear any fruits, unable to continue in such a state of affair, he probably wished to resign. What other reasons there could be?".

Communication is irreversible, despite of Rinpoche's clarification on the issue of resignation. The impact of the initial message was damaging and far reaching.