I recently had a conversation with a fellow Steubenville dweller and the entire conversation struck me and made me stop in my tracks and think. The conversation was all about how the other person’s colleagues have entirely different opinions about the national political landscape. He went on about how a select few are controlling the majority of our leaders, how every political leader is merely out for their own good, and how one candidate’s view on health care reform are the reason he would never consider voting for him.
I thought, “What is so wrong about this conversation? About this way of thinking?” So often I get caught up in my own views of the world and my opinions on various issues that I forget to remember how important it is to allow people to think creatively and respond to the issues at hand. Only when we allow this type of dialogue, conversation and freethinking will we yield creative solutions to the many issues we face.
I firmly stand by many of my beliefs without wavering such as the truth that Jesus Christ died for my sins and I should always seek to live a better life because of my relationship with Him. At the same time, I understand that when it comes to less fundamental issues it is important to foster an environment in which discussion and differences are allowed, even encouraged. It is through critical dialogue and different modes of thinking that the best solutions are found. If you train a group of people to think only one certain way then you will always yield the same results.
Without critical dialogue and a difference in thoughts, creativity is crushed. People may even be encouraged to give new ideas or opinions but then when someone learns about your opinion they are unable to get past the idea that your opinion is different from theirs.
Sometimes people agree with 90% of what someone stand for and then they disagree vehemently with the other 10% and they allow that 10% to erode their relationship with the other. We cannot let subtle differences get in the way of relationships. In my mind, it is unprofessional and immature to do so.
At my own company, I have sought to hire a diverse workforce so that new and creative ideas are always coming to the surface. It is so important to surround yourself with people who think differently than you, that have different strengths than you do so that you are encouraged to grow in new and great ways. In this way, we can arrive at creative solutions that are found with ease due even to conflicting ideas or opinions.
As a boss and manager, it is also important to foster an open-minded environment that allows new and creative ideas to flow freely. At the same time, it is important to instill the mindset in everyone around me that even if you have a differing opinion than I do I will respect you as a person and will treat you no differently.
I see the mentality that crushes creative differences so clearly displayed in today’s political sphere. In the race for President in the 2016 election, there is a mentality that does not allow for differences in thinking. If one candidate has a different stance on a policy such as immigration or health care then the other candidates belittle the other and make sure it is known that the others’ opinion is not welcome. The appropriate way to respond would be to take the thought of the other candidate into consideration and then simply to speak about your own opinion on the matter at hand so that the American people can make the judgment for themselves.
The same goes for the local Steubenville political landscape. So often the 10% of someone’s opinions gets in the way of relationships that would help the community grow. Because of this people root against other people instead of rooting for others and bringing about progress in the community.
We each encounter differing opinions every day whether it is in national politics, business, and local politics or even within your own family — the question is how will we respond to differing opinions? Will we treat people differently or act negatively towards another because of differing opinions or will we treat them with respect and learn to understand their opinion more while expressing your own thoughts? This is a critical decision to make that will help you live your life in a more or less fulfilling way.
Given this ideology, that differences breed creativity and new solutions, it is important to ask yourself: Do I think of people differently once I learn they have a different opinion than I do? Does my workplace encourage diversity in thinking that breeds new and creative solutions? If not, what can I do to fix the environment?
I encourage you to take time and reflect about how this applies in your life and in the circles and environments that you partake in on an average week.
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