Ignore Those with a Stick

I couldn’t help but be aware of how divided we have become. We seem to be breaking up into ever-increasing groups of like-minded people. Then, each group evolves and splits as differences are identified, and a finer screen is needed to hang with like-minded people. The trendline indicates we’ll all be in a group of 1 eventually.

And that’s the fatal flaw in this approach. I find myself seeking out space and time in my comfort zone. I like it there. It feels safer. I feel comfortable.

In the short term.

But I live for a much longer time in the long term.

How can I be comfortable in the long term? It is a question I ask myself whenever I find myself too comfortable – for too long.

My local daily newspaper, which I now read on my mini-iPad, has a prominent space reserved for two columnists who frequently approach an issue from different perspectives and come to differing conclusions. My comfort is almost always with writer “A.” His defaults lean my way most of the time.

But I regularly read both columns. I read fellow “B,” knowing he’s out in the left field, or is it a right field? No matter. I rarely agree with his view of the world. I can tell that my unease increases as I read his piece. I force myself not to be quickly dismissive.

When I was working, I had to continually remind myself that good ideas can come from any staff member on any issue. Some staff will accumulate a history of successful ideas, but only sometimes. Likewise, some staff have little or no history of presenting ideas that withstood closer scrutiny.

We had a serious issue with our Monday Admission Day, with about 20 folks coming for a 3-week stay for addiction treatment. It was long, complicated, and stressful. I tried tweaking it shortly after my arrival. I think I made progress but knew it was not good enough.

Then, a staff person in one of the lowest employment classifications who rarely spoke in meetings dropped by my office to share her idea of how we could structure the intake process. I listened closely, thankfully, and there were no apparent problems. I asked her to come back and see me after lunch to talk further.

The lunch hour gave me time to critique her idea more thoroughly. When we got together, I told her she had a solid idea, and I wanted to share it with the other staff, who would impacted.

The other staff supported the better intake procedure. That new intake procedure remained in place past my retirement over a decade later.

I remain wary of group members who think their view of the world is so obvious that anything they say does not need any explanation- it is so self-evident. They are the ones who carry a big stick into conversations. They are the ones who try to lead but have followers who stray from the stated path or who follow out of fear.

I avoid these people as the communication with them would be, at best, two monologues. I seek out others with whom I can have a two-way conversation.

Please give this a bit of a think. When have you benefited from a strong idea you didn’t expect? What causes you to split from a group?

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think in the comment section below. It will come to me for approval before posting.

Photo by Haley Rivera on Unsplash

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