In Monday Memo


The paradox between assertiveness and multiple opinions

Society encourages us to become more assertive as we grow up. After all, we are required to grow out of our total dependence on our parents and stand on our two feet. In order to do so, well, it would be just as well if we had our own opinions, our principles and values that we stand for. As the saying goes, if you don’t stand for anything, you stand for nothing.

Here’s the thing: most other people learn by the same rules – become more independent; assert yourself; don’t let others walk over you etc. One doesn’t have to be a brain surgeon to guess that sooner or later there just has to be a collision.

What I think we forget is that cognitive intelligence is not about being right (and making others wrong). It’s about how we accommodate a multiplicity of other opinions – because, you see, our growth doesn’t stop once we become independent. Maturity is reached when we learn interdependence, and learn it well.

Of course, another logical consequence of working so hard to make ourselves right and others wrong, is that a lot of others decide early on not to compete, and lose their voices entirely. Our bullying them into submitting to our opinion is a form of abuse. In the process, the world ceases to hear the valid views of millions of people. That has got to be wrong! Moreover, we are poorer not only for silencing them, but by the fact that we are missing out on their thoughts and ideas.

So, try something this week: instead of making yourself right, seek to find a third alternative each time you and another / others are discussing something, a third alternative that uses the puzzle pieces of each of our ideas and creates a solution that is better than all the pieces.

Monday Morning Perspective: “Truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis which reconciles the two.” – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Kind regards

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