Understanding a Difference of Opinion
“I know what I know
Though I can’t speak for you
I know what I know
Yeah, from my point of view… “~ Steve Forbert
“I hope I’ve been compassionate when I read and heard about previous incidents like this that have happened over the years, but I guess there’s just something markedly different when it happens in your city, to people you know,” Congressman Chris Jacobs told The Buffalo News. (Source: NBC News reporting by Minvyonne Burke)
Has this happened to you? You’re having a conversation with your people (friends, team, colleagues) and you assume they’re in agreement with you. Only then you discover, they are not. You consider the many things you have in common so you are coming from a similar place, yet they’re not in agreement with a statement you just made. Why? They have had their own experiences and history which have led them to where they are today, just as your experiences have led you to yours.
Experiences change how you view a subject. Often, people can perceive things conceptually through empathy and emotions even if they haven’t lived them and come to a new perspective. And, yet, sometimes people can’t put themselves in a situation to empathize, envision possibilities, potential outcomes or situations until they’ve had to confront them personally (i.e., Chris Jacobs above).
My family members believed sexual harassment disappeared from the workplace in the 1960’s and that the media fabricated the incidents of recent years. With their limited experience, since they didn’t see it in their workplace, it didn’t exist. My experience was different. Not only had I heard numerous stories from former executive search candidates and business contacts both male and female, I had experienced it myself and was instrumental in having a person fired because of his physical and verbal abuse. I was able to speak about real life personal incidents yet am unclear my family members could put aside their views to accept a new truth regardless of our bonds.
People are not only a product of their shared experiences with you if you have things in common; they are also a product of their own individual experiences. This means, they may have missed out on opportunities, circumstances and or circles of people that you’ve encountered during your life. I understood this with my family.
You may be a leader, an entrepreneur, a president, CEO, a department head or non-managerial. As any individual, you see things in a way that makes sense to you. Like any strong communicator, you attempt to communicate that clearly, perhaps personally, and with facts, analogies and stories. And yet, that may not be enough. They are not you.
A man will never truly understand what it’s like to be a woman in the working world – the assumptions and bias she has to face, missed opportunities, vulnerability, fear, life and health decisions, life choices, expectations of being a caregiver. And, a woman will never truly understand what it’s like to be a man in the working world – navigating expectations of being tough but fair, managing emotions, peer pressure, trying to do the right thing and not always understanding what that is, keeping up appearances of strength, understanding when to let down their guard. A non-binary person has challenges that we are trying to understand now as they speak out and explain. Yet many can listen, honor, and try to empathize when someone different from you speaks about their history, journey and views.
People you work with may not always be on your same wavelength. If you can count on your curiosity skills, you can ask and listen to their views about why your vision or opinion is not shared. And you can be comfortable with their uncertainty which is a great outcome because it means they are not stuck in an opinion.
Patience, compassion and discussion in these situations can pave the way for a more mutual understanding. In addition to outcome. And, if you could benefit from additional resources to have these conversations, contact me: Susan@SusanGoldbergLeadership.com .
“But though all our knowledge begins with experience, is does not follow that it all arises from experience. For it is quite possible that even our empirical knowledge is a compound of that which we perceive through impressions, and of that which our own faculty of knowledge (incited by sense impressions) supplies from itself…” ~ Immanuel Kant
Are there challenges within a team you lead? Turnover, talent gaps, underdelivered expectations. Is whatever solution you’ve used previously not the right response for your current circumstances? We can work together to gather the information and inspiration needed so that you and your team can become more productive, satisfied, and feel recognized. Your bottom line will feel the results too. There are three levels of service options within Golden Monocle™. To learn more and find what services suit your needs, contact me, Susan@SusanGoldbergLeadership.com .
My work as a leadership and communication expert has me go into organizations, as an outside unbiased view to look at the information gaps. Using proprietary and trademarked solutions including a team mapping tool, Collaboration Beyond Words™, I identify what an organization is missing that’s holding it back from thriving and continuing to stay relevant. Have practices become entrenched or no longer fit your plans for today’s workplace and goals? Contact me: Susan@SusanGoldbergLeadership.com Let’s talk.