When I was young I equated my opinions with facts.
If I had an opinion, and if I explained it well to someone who understood my explanation, then it had to follow that they’d then agree with me. How could they have a different view? Didn’t they understand what I was saying?
The reality of course was very different – and sometimes shocking to my more arrogant younger self.
You may have heard people say that you’re entitled to your own opinions but you’re not entitled to your own facts. Recently it has been attributed to Hilary Clinton – but she wasn’t the first.
There is, however, always an objective reality out there. Whether we are able to accurately view it or discern it is another matter entirely.
You might remember a famous picture which showed both an old woman and a young woman but where, on initial examination, you’d only be able to see one of them. Why? Sometimes it’s because we’re influenced by what we expect. Sometimes that expectation can be so strong that we’re blind to other explanations.
Check out the picture of the parrot. It definitely seems like a parrot. Now look more closely though. The parrot’s tail is actually the outstretched left leg of a young woman. The triangular sides of the parrot’s head is actually the woman’s left arm turned over the top of her own head.
Can you see it?
The parrot is a woman is a parrot.
My own takeaway from this sort of thing is the realisation that two people can look at something, see different things, but both still be correct.
I hope they teach this stuff in schools, journalism, diplomacy, etc.
In your professional world this humility and open-mindedness can diffuse tension. It can produce synergy. It can aid problem-solving. It can enhance relationships.
Sometimes of course you will legitimately aim to play a zero-sum game. Sometimes you’ll want to go for the jugular.
But not always! And you always have the choice to choose your approach.
PS: The artist is Johannes Stoetter and you can view and buy his work here.