by NICK MEYERS
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own minds and our own perspectives. We spend so much time and put so much thought into determining our beliefs and what we stand for that it is difficult and uncomfortable when our stances or opinions are challenged.
The trouble with opinions, however, is that they are rarely wrong or right and almost impossible to prove either way.
That’s why when it comes to having honest conversations and making progress in personal and professional relationships, it is imperative to consider the perspectives of others.
In fact, the most important perspectives for us to understand are not our own, not the ones that we’ve spent our whole lives deciding, but the ones that make us angry, the ones that make us fume and the ones that we disagree with most.
Confirmation bias is one of the easiest fallacies for people to fall into and understandably so; it’s comfortable. It’s why we fill our Facebook feeds with the people and ideas that we agree with. It’s why we choose the friends we do. And often times, it’s what makes our arguments weak.
But in the same way that you have spent your life deliberating your beliefs, so have others. Perhaps I have too much faith in most people, but if someone argues their point as passionately and thoroughly as you do yours, then they probably have a good reason for believing what they do.
Don’t you find that fascinating?
Doesn’t the democrat want to know why the republican is so confident in his argument (or vice versa)?
Doesn’t the parent want to know why the child behaves the way she does?
Doesn’t the boss want to know why their employees say the things they say?
This world does not function in an echo chamber. Progress is not made with the same words and the same ideas being repeated and confirmed.
Our progress, whether it be as a person, as an institution or as a society, is forged in the fires of discourse, debate and disagreement.
Understanding others’ points of view is more than just compassion.
The more we understand the opposite argument, the more we can strengthen ours by filling in the holes and forming counter arguments.
The more we understand our perceived opponents, the more we may realize that we don’t disagree as much as we thought. Perhaps we were too busy shouting at each other to realize there was a common ground we could both stand on.
Most importantly, the best reason to listen to others and understand their perspectives is so that we may change our own.
We never want to admit that we were wrong. That’s why we find solace in the circles we frequent, to make sure we are right.
But we can never know if we’re right or wrong, so we must always be prepared for both cases. Even though it’s difficult to admit when we’re wrong, there is no shame in doing so.
Admitting to our faults is an important step to maturity and one that is often overlooked by adults addicted to the echo chambers.
So as you venture forth into our inevitable future, I hope you take the time to listen to the people around you, especially when you don’t see eye to eye.
Maybe I’m wrong, but if you’ve read this far then at least you have something to think about.