By Karen Amos

Wow – Social Media!  Never failing to find an opinion on something!  I’d like to offer an alternative and seemingly quite unpopular, certainly underused phrase to help us though the unrelentingly bonkers times we live though…  

It’s the art of saying, ‘I don’t know…’

Radical eh?!  You’d certainly think so, looking at the news and views out there!  Let’s face it, so many people will never let lack of information get in the way of a good opinion! 

Whilst I make light of this, there is a much more serious point at stake.  This is the tendency of so many people, to be polarised in their views.  Perhaps this is perpetuated and encouraged by social media, but it appears that everyone MUST have an opinion and MUST choose whether any individual is a ‘demon’ or an ‘angel’, or risk incurring the wrath of those who have nailed their colours to a certain mast.

Thinking rationally, most of us know this isn’t true.  None of us are ‘angels’, we all make mistakes and sometimes do things we are even ashamed of.  Whilst it’s vital we identify and live true to our values, this inevitably means we will also come into conflict with those who don’t share them.  There are some obvious outliers here, with whom I would hope no-one would share values with, but the fact is they do.  I’m interested in politics and hold some strong opinions in some areas, but people are often surprised to hear I have friends and acquaintances right across the political spectrum.  Whilst we often agree to disagree, or even not discuss some issues at all, one thing I’m sure of is that they are not ‘BAD PEOPLE’ just because I disagree with them.

Perhaps it’s time we stepped up to the challenge and stepped out of our echo chambers…

Bill George advocated developing our own sense of self-awareness and the ability to genuinely consider other viewpoints if we were to be effective and authentic leaders.  Daniel Goleman also cites the need for ‘self-regulation’, which includes being comfortable with ambiguity and a willingness to ‘see the bigger picture’ and change your viewpoint where appropriate.

This will always be a work in progress, but with reflection, we can all become a better version of ourselves.  Perhaps enough to pause, reflect and admit, ‘This is a really complex situation with many facets and I don’t have a clear opinion on this.’  Perhaps the world would be a better place if we all did this a little more?

For more reading check out:

Bill George. (2004). Authentic Leadership – Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value.  Wiley & Sons.

Daniel Goleman. (1996). Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Bloomsbury.

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Karen Amos is an executive coach and Director and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships.