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The Psyche is not Observable

A commonly underestimated problem is that the psyche of people cannot be observed. The only thing one can observe are actions (bodily expressions are also actions). What someone experiences, what goes on inside someone, that he does not even notice himself (“How could I have done this!”), what motivates someone and for what reason someone follows what intentions – all this and much more cannot be observed. Because this is so, organisations and teams are, when exercising judgment about suitability or non-suitability, dependent upon hypotheses, deductions and conjectures.

This fundamental impossibility of observing the psyche cannot even be circumvented with the help of experts (=appraisers, auditors, assessment leaders, personnel consultants) or with procedures (=personality tests, selection procedures, audits). Nevertheless, it is attempted, offered, paid for and believed again and again. The undesired insecurity is compensated for through commonly accepted ‘as-if-security’. This is useful for legitimising decisions about filling positions and to reassure oneself that no erroneous employment has been made. Such legitimisation processes are often necessary for organisations, because through them the probability increases that the decisions about personnel will be accepted. If something can be interpreted as arbitrariness, then the potential of offence as well as the possibility of being challenged is high. However, in the guiding process personnel it is necessary to limit both.