Welcome to Insights and Implications!
We hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy during this resurgence of the virus. Here in the US we just came through a very contentious presidential election. The US is not the only place on the globe where disagreements arise. Read on to learn about how the brilliance of the mind can help you transcend disagreements and discover something new.
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Disagreement to Discovery
Have you ever had to ponder another person’s radically different idea?? Have you ever tried to change another person’s mind? Was that person your boss?
Brad had just been appointed to a leadership role in Human Resources for a high tech manufacturing company. His role never existed in the organization. Not only was he a young leader, relatively new in the company, but his new job had no prior playbook or history from which to learn..
On the positive side, Brad had caught the attention of the CEO who took a special interest in him. The CEO offered to mentor Brad, an offer Brad heartily accepted.
Brad ran in trouble when the CEO, without any input or consultation, changed a personnel policy. When Brad learned of the change he had an immediate reaction. Brad thought the new policy was a bad idea and that employees would rebel. Brad believed the change might create potential safety problems and liability for the company, and decided to discuss his concerns with his immediate boss. Brad’s boss agreed and had already shared the same concerns with the CEO to no avail. The boss advised Brad to drop the subject and move on – the CEO had made up his mind.
As luck would have it, the CEO invited Brad to lunch, and it didn’t take long for the subject of the policy change to come up. As the CEO made his case, Brad was loading up objections in his mind. At the first pause in the CEO’s monologue Brad pounced with his view. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess where the discussion might go next.
Luckily, something happened for Brad. This is how he described it:
At some point I heard myself. I had become binary – my way or the highway. I was right and he was wrong. I had stopped listening, I completely shut off my creativity and I forgot about the possibility for insight.
Once Brad realized what was happening inside his mind and that he had stopped listening, he paused. He asked the CEO to repeat his reasoning for the policy change while letting the CEO know that he’d caught himself not listening. The CEO was momentarily taken aback, but after a brief hesitation, he stated his case again.
While listening with fresh ears, Brad found himself filled with curiosity and questions. The CEO also seemed to slow down and reflect on Brad’s questions. At some point the CEO stopped too. He and Brad sat quietly for a few minutes and then the CEO shared his true intent and what he hoped the change in policy would accomplish. Once the CEO articulated his bottom-line desired outcome, he and Brad saw a way to get it done without changing the policy. The CEO was thrilled and so was Brad.
The interaction between Brad and the CEO revealed a fundamental fact about human interaction – you can’t influence someone you don’t understand. And when you truly want to understand another person, it helps to recognize that your own ideas, your thinking and your position might be affecting your understanding. If you allow your mind to clear, on the other hand, there might be space for something new.
Does something new always come? Do you always discover another way beyond the position you had entering a discussion? No. Differences might remain. However the “binary” approach – as Brad called it – never bears new fruit. You end up having the same discussion over and over again. The winner (if you can have a winner) is the one with the most power.
Your version of reality will always be uniquely yours. You are going to have disagreements. You may wish everyone thought exactly like you but you’d actually hate it they did. Diversity of thought is hugely valuable in organizations and in families. More minds in the room are almost always better – IF they connect.
When you use the creative power of your mind to look for new thought, quite often you’ll find it. Disagreements turn into discoveries, confusion into connection. Just ask Brad and his CEO.