Last week, we were treated to one of the major conflicts of our time. It was not global superpowers at loggerheads, but rather the Internet, looking to skewer itself over the audio clip known as Yanny or Laurel. To me, the most fascinating part of this was not the debate, but that an audio file could be heard differently by different people.
Humans have had conflict since their first appearance on earth. Tribes battled each other, religions held tales of gods trying to outdo each other and even brother killing brother, literature has been dotted with it, from the Montagues and Capulets to Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty.
But often times, we’re given false choices because it’s easiest to make a decision when there are only two things to decide between. This versus that, my team over yours, Democrats or Republicans, white dress or blue dress – we’re typically fixated on a choice between a pair of things. Even one of my favorite podcasts, Business Wars, focuses on the battle of the brands, whether it’s Blockbuster vs. Netflix, Nike vs. Adidas, or Marvel vs. DC. It’s easier for us to compartmentalize.
The world is usually messier than that. In workplace conflicts, there are wide arrays of feelings, motivations, priorities and the rest that inform how employees make decisions. But human nature loves victory. We root for the underdog, or we cheer the champion that defeated the also-ran. We love a good villain and admire a great hero.
As we move toward to the temptation to make quick decisions, take sides, or declare victory, let’s recall that perspective matters. A simple change in focus or looking at something from a different angle can change how you view the challenge in front of you. Rather than insisting on your position, try asking some questions or offering some understanding.