What is easy in the moment – judgment, separation, and even condemnation – is actually more difficult and costly in the medium and long-run.
While division is playing out overtly big time in our nation – division can happen on a covert scale in the workplace and our families (okay, maybe overtly too!).
When we hurry to conclude and categorize complex issues, we often put people in boxes, perhaps even label them with a slogan, and then place outside on a shelf – creating division
While categorization is a very efficient tool for understanding the world around us, if we’re too quick to put people in a box, we often miss out on important dialogue that bridges and creates aligned energy, which brings the best possible ideas forward.
It is easy to fall prey to snap judgments about people, things, and events without looking closely and considering the nuances, those subtle differences that are fairly important. For example, something that at first glance may seem simple like office layout can become a highly charged issue if the nuances aren’t explored. These nuances are formed through each person’s experiences, beliefs, and preferences. These can vary widely even within a race, gender, or culture.
In my work, I’ve witnessed palpable physical, mental, and emotional relief when people choose to explore nuances with curiosity rather than cutting quickly to categorize one another in a box.
When resistance melts; bridges appear and innovation blossoms.
It’s a thrill to experience the ‘Ahhh…YES!’ that comes from releasing resistance toward others. What seems like extra time to explore nuances of position and belief actually saves time and money in the medium and long-run. And, likely expands the possibilities for better solutions.
Most people don’t necessarily have to have their ‘way.’
They want to be heard, considered, and valued, rather than disregarded.
In a world at odds, attention to nuance is at the core to building bridges. What to do?
- Consider your intention – do you want to build bridges or construct boxes? Boxes while quick and easy, are divisive; bridges last longer and provide a path to a new place.
- Get calm and centered – this broadens your perspective and ability to create trust. When you are centered people don’t feel the temptation to push back because you are not pushing.
- Acknowledge first and ask a lot of open-ended questions to learn the nuances of the other person’s position, those subtle differences that are fairly important.
Using my methodology “Spiral Impact” involves looking at things from many different angles, exploring the nuance. While simple it isn’t easy.
Will you join me and Spiral into the nuance of things? Build a bridge, not a box?
Love this! So timely. Thank you for a beautiful, helpful and meaningful writing!
Great, thought-provoking article, as always! In my experience, the most difficult part of responding in the way you’re suggesting is when I’m in the box! When I’m being judged as someone unworthy of repect and not being listened to, it’s really difficult for me to respond in a respectful, listening way. And to compound that, it’s not so much the people as the changes they’re trying to force, changes with which I radically disagree, that make it even more difficult for me to respond by listening respectfully to their points of view. There is no way that any conversation of any length will change my mind about certain health, political, and legal subjects. Any helpful thoughts you have would be greatly welcomed.
I like how this applies to everyone, and you do a good job of allowing for self questioning.
Hi Hugh! I could write a book about this! ;-). Your question is a great one. I’d like to share a personal experience of when I felt put in a box, sliced and diced by a person. My initial choice was one to end the relationship as I saw no way forward. As I was writing this ‘boxes or bridges’ article, I felt a bit of a fraud. As I reflected, I own that I responded to being put in a box, by putting the other person in a box. Because I am really serious about what I teach, I knew I needed to bridge. How to do this? I changed my intention to build a bridge. Then, the hardest part was saying to him, “How uncomfortable I felt in our relationship because of the past exchange.” Notice, this was about me, not him. There was no defense, just acknowledging how it impacted me. Then, it opened us up to dialogue. I received an apology from him. I feel better and I am sure he does too.
Force meets force blindly. When we feel our beliefs being challenged, the natural reaction is to push back. Box meets box – not much movement. If you will recall the Spiral and my aikido demonstration, the practice is to not to meet force with force – but with power which is a spiral. That is the only way you can be heard and form any type of collaboration.
As you say, they are trying to force you to change. So, again the natural reaction is to be more committed to (y)our positon. I have my positions as well. Yet, I want to know more about how others are experiencing this in their world. I can do that and still have my ‘position’ but it allows me to learn and consider others’ viewpoints. Truth be told, when you hear and acknowledge another person, they are more likely to listen to you. When you ask, tell me more about your understanding? That doesn’t mean agreement, it does mean I am interested and value your thoughts.
Developing a strong balanced center, being intentional about building bridges, acknowledging what your experience is, and asking a lot questions from a curiosity standpoint – opens you to learn.
Sun Tzu said, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” I think this is very wise. If we are not close to our enemies we will never have a chance to influence or create the best outcome.
I believe the upheaval in our country in a large part is because people have been put in boxes. It’s not one-sided all sides are dong it. I believe the work of Spiral Impact and aikido have never been more important.
Hugh, this is a complex issue…I don’t know if I’ve done it justice for you. It’s nuanced! What is your next question?
I was thinking more in terms of people I don’t even know who post things or say things in interviews, or politicians who try to make laws to force me to do things I don’t want to do and excoriate people who believe what I believe. Since I don’t know them, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to, to be perfectly honest, the temptation is just to put them in my “bad box” and dislike them! I know it doesn’t do anything to make me feel better…it’s just my gut reaction!
“Choosing to be fascinated, rather than outraged, puts you in a position of power and influence.” This is one of my quotes from a few years ago. It still rings true. Your feelings are likely shared by everyone that reads! There are a lot of different opinions on every topic out there. And, many people love to post to just get reaction. Personally, I rarely take that bait.
Again, force meets force blindly. It creates stress and stuckness. I imagine, I know, you and I don’t agree on a variety of issues. I’d not put you in a bad box. I’d see it as fascinating. When you inquire doesn’t mean you agree, I create a bridge. If I put you in a box, I lose…so do you. When I was a young automotive engineer I remember feeling outraged at the government passing a law requiring automakers to have airbags. I thought that was unreasonable, how were we going to be efficient with all that included!? Now, that seems funny I would have thought that. Now, people demand cars be as safe as possible. Hugh, I hope sometime we can talk. There are such nuances to all of todays issues. We have a culture that seems to really like short slogans – that leave out nuance. As a sales person, you know importance exploring nuance!