The news of politicians being censured for not following the party line, had me recalling something that happened in my college days.

In my final year the department decided that we had to do a senior’s exam in my particular major in order to graduate. I chose a subject area of interest for the required work. Unbeknownst to me, my subject area was the same as the dissertation topic of one of the reviewing professors. I did significant research, created a logical interpretation of facts, and wrote and submitted the paper, and sat for the oral exam. While I received a passing grade, the less than stellar outcome was because my interpretation didn’t agree with that of the professor’s dissertation. I remember the feeling of receiving negative feedback for a valid interpretation that simply didn’t match that of a person in authority. On the other hand, it led me to question whether I was there to truly learn or simply learn to regurgitate what someone else determined.

I could ask the same question in the present when people from differing backgrounds are expected to come to one conclusion based on information which can be viewed from different angles.

We all have different experiences in life. New ways of looking at existing information is one of the ways that we create breakthroughs. Do we really believe it is possible for everyone in a particular religious group, nationality, or gender to all have the exact same opinions? Have we decided that critical thinking is passé and people don’t need to analyze, simply parrot?

Some questions to consider:

  • If we all thought the same, what would there be to discuss? How would innovation occur? What would become of critical thinking?
  • Can’t accept that someone’s perspective disagrees with yours? Look in the mirror and ask yourself what kind of person needs others to think the exact same way.
  • Don’t believe that people are entitled to a difference in opinion? Look around the world at the richness created by diversity of culture, landscape, history.
  • Still can’t see it? Ask yourself – what do I get out of needing only people who agree with me in my life? Safety, certainty, the need to be right?

While there are certain values we hold at the core of our being, I was struck by a sentence in an article I read about varying opinions that acknowledged – “there is power in our differences”.

Back when I worked with teams, an executive asked my opinion about choosing between diversely skilled candidates, one with a perceived analytical viewpoint and another person with more of a perceived creative flair to lead a project. My first question to that executive – why wouldn’t you have them co-lead? Analytical strengths will complement creative strengths. We can also consider that looking at something from an analytical viewpoint, is a creative approach and that a creative person has their own way of analyzing a situation. This happened to me recently in two separate instances when another person’s viewpoint gave me a completely different perspective on an image – something I had never thought about before.

Do you expect everyone to think the same way you do? Given the multitude of assessment tools that exist and vast differences in our life experiences, the potential combinations of characteristics and experiences make that expectation unlikely. Stuck in a perspective and want to see another viewpoint, then consider taking a transformational approach and contact me for a complimentary coaching conversation.

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