One of the great frustrations of people with vision, energy, and insight – the way we like to see ourselves – is why others don’t see the world as we do. Once we notice this, and all of its obvious obstacles, we take a step.
The easiest step to take is to infer that others are against us for some very poor reasons. They’re not very smart or have no imagination. They’re afraid of change. They just don’t get it. They’re invested in the status quo. It’s personal.
Even if there’s some truth in those conclusions, rehearsing the ways others are opposed to us builds a wall. It gets stronger as we hang onto the notion that “the old guard are protecting their bonuses,” for example. That wall will be there when we look for it. We can count on it. That’s not real, not a fact, not “reality.” But it becomes more real to us the more we rehearse it. It becomes a part of us.
We can take the wall apart by by what we do and what we think. But if we do not take it apart, we will experience work as a maze of walls and alleys.
Instead of drawing taking the very human step that reinforce]s us vs, them, we can take a step into the Learning Leader Lab. Here are three ideas to help you move from certain to curious.
Open up “data collection”
Whatever you infer about others, you’re selecting a small set of data. It’s probably skewed toward what you believe. That’s a human habit; no harm, no foul.
Pay attention to other inputs, information, contributions people are making to the issue you think they oppose. If this feels a bit like being a Pollyanna when you suspect other intentions, keep it up. You’re on the right track. That suspiciousness is also a common human habit.
Try thought experiments
What other legitimate interests might this person be attempting to serve? What’s the good thing, principle, or value they’re trying to bring about?
Stretch yourself. You may find it hard to see the good interests of others if you’ve already decided they’re set against yours.
Ask for more information about others’ perspectives and conclusions. Like you, they’re synthesizing a collection of values, assumptions, experience, and popping out with “what we should do.” You may find common ground in the things that haven’t been said yet.
Watch your questioning, though. With practice, we learn to tell when closed-end questions are set as traps, when leading questions are really statements, and when even open-ended questions are designed to make us look smart rather than to learn something new.