“Why do you think that?” or said a different way “Why do you believe that?” This thought occurred to me following a night of conversation with friends. In the flow of conversation, I happened to describe my approach to handling a decision within our small business.
My friends disagreed and quickly told me how they would handle the decision. I then disagreed and told them that I thought was right. We got stuck, breaking the flow of the evening, for about five minutes until we moved on without understanding or agreement on the validity of the two disparate points of view.
Driving home I began to realize the mistake I had made. I never asked, “why do you think that?” My ego rushed to my rescue and made me impulsively defy and disagree with what was said. I never tried to dig deeper as to why my friends would have this different point of view.
True, the conversation was never meant to lead to an outcome. But what if it was meant to? Over the next couple of days, I began to realize that I have done this many times. Now I wonder how much learning I missed?
We quickly rush to defend our thinking without ever thinking that it might be flawed. Our interest in moving on quickly without understanding weakens us. It robs us of another opportunity to learn more about who we are in some small way.
More importantly, we miss our chance to further develop our skill of empathy. Discovering more about how other people think, what worldview is central to their point of view, and objectively trying to find the differences from our logic is fundamental to becoming more empathetic.
Our lives are full of texture and nuance. It’s hard to see any of this when all we do is speed through life without stopping to try to understand others and everything around us.
Surprisingly when we do, we learn more about ourselves, giving us practice in being both more empathetic and self-aware simply by asking more times than not, “why do you think that?” while traveling through our busy day.