“When everyone is thinking the same, no one is thinking.” ~John Wooden
We seem to gravitate to a place of comfort and like to spend time with people who are like us. These people agree with us, think like us and have a similar viewpoint on issues. While this makes our lives easier, there is also a downside. Only spending time with people like us keeps us in our comfort zone, and growth occurs outside of our comfort zone. While it may be less comfortable to be with people who are different, it also helps us expand ourselves in crucial areas if we wish to grow.
Here are 5 reasons to spend time with people who are different from us.
- Increase Our Self-Awareness and Acceptance of Others – Being around those who think differently from us helps us to understand ourselves better. We become more conscious of the reasons that we chose to be and think as we do and keeps us from the trap of believing there is only one way to see things. It helps keep us out of the us versus them and right versus wrong thinking patterns. Instead of black and white, we see a lot of grey.
- Challenges Us to Think Critically – People who are different challenge our ways of thinking, our perceptions and norms. We can easily fall into the trap of only seeing things from our limited perspective. Being with others that see things differently will keep us aware of that there are many difference perspectives that all come with their own reasons for thinking this way. This awareness will challenge us to change our own perceptions if we find others that make more sense to us.
- Allows Us to Benefit From Others’ Strengths That We May be Lacking In – All of us have strengths and weaknesses. For example, someone may be a big picture thinker who has little interest and patience in the details. This person would greatly benefit from having someone in their close circle who is a detail person. The detail person would help them from making bad decisions due to failing to think of all the consequences of their actions. The reverse benefit would come to the detail person who could never make a decision and start on a project because they get bogged down in the details.
- Helps Us Make Better Decisions – Having people in our circle who are able to see situations from many different angles helps us to experience a more complete and clearer picture from which we can make more informed decisions. Abraham Lincoln was well known for putting people in his cabinet who thought quite differently from him. While many would find this threatening, he realized that he had blind spots in his own thinking and needed people who were strong in the areas that he was weak in. This helped him form a strong multi-faceted team that was seldom caught off guard because they had not thought of all aspects of an issue.
- Adds Zest and Imagination to Life – While being around those NOT like us can make us comfortable; there is cause for celebration as this will prevent us from becoming boring, unimaginative and dull. We need challenge in our lives to keep us sharp and stimulated. This then opens a whole new and exciting world of possibilities for us to imagine and have fun with.
To take your own Emotional Intelligence Quiz, go to theotherkindofsmart.com/EI-quiz.
About the Author: Harvey DEUTSCHENDORF is one of Your Monthly Mentors, an emotional intelligence expert, internationally published author and speaker. His book, The Other Kind of Smart, Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success, has been published in 4 languages. Harvey writes for Fast Company and has a monthly column with HRProfessionals Magazine. Read More…