Fitting In & Speaking Out (Paradox Pair #42)

A sense of belonging is powerful and good, it unlocks our whole self. On the other hand conforming to group norms can be a detriment.

Fitting In & Speaking Out (Paradox Pair #42)

Success shouldn't be a game of chance, it's a game of skill in cahoots with opportunity and hustle. Too often others define our success by how well we conform. Yet we know success is multi-dimensional — and personal. We should identify with our tribe, finding those that also appreciate open-mindedness, celebrate diversity in thought and experience, and follow the infinite trails of curiosity.

A sense of belonging is powerful and good, it unlocks our whole self. On the other hand conforming to group norms can be a detriment. Conforming can cause us to mistrust our own instincts when they are in conflict with the group's direction. It may cause us to tamp down our inner voice and portray an external posture that may not be true to who we are.

We know to foster a culture for healthy discourse we need to do more listening and give space to thoughtful challenges rather than be quick to pass judgement. We recognize those that speak out as brave, for it is hard to question the group — to question authority — and yet is essential.

From the book Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement, by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, & Cass R. Sunstein:

"Similar groups might end up making very different judgments simply because of who spoke first."

Those that first speak on a topic set the tone, creating unconscious pressure for future speakers to agree. Leaders can diffuse this directly by playing the important role of the contrarian. Providing alternative view points and soliciting more inclusive feedback. Before settling on a plan forward, we should ask one final question: "what is the most important element, if it changed, that would alter our decision?" Answering this question will either further strengthen our resolve or provide us additional insight to consider. Further, it sets the expectation that we will revisit our plans when and if the landscape (element) shifts.

See the whole series by using the Paradox Pairs Index