Recently, during a discussion about food the topic of diets came up. Many examples were given of family and friends that were on different types. From paleo to keto, from a first heard of program to a branded approach to dieting. Lots of information was shared where different foods were either friend or enemy depending on the approach someone took to how they ate.
During this conversation, it was interesting to see how many different points of view (diets) were shared. Each approach to food had defined rules that casual conversationists knew well. Every food plan asked you to eat different things. It wold be hard to mix meals from different approaches because each would tell you that you are not following what they ask you to do.
Yet all have the same goal of helping us lose weight and become healthier. In discussing the different approaches there was a level of respect for how each diet went about this task. When exploring whether one was better than another, personal preference popped in. It would be easier to do this one than that one because of what foods I like was the common criteria used to identify individual preference for each approach. It was evident that there was sufficient knowledge learned before personal preference entered their mind.
There did not seem to be any confusion in this discussion. While there was certainty, in that everyone agreed on what each diet approach entailed, no one insisted that one way was the best. Each example explained, seem to lead us to conclude that many diets do work. Even after evidence demonstrating that some people regressed after abandoning their seemingly successful diet.
My mind then wandered, wondering how many topics that we selfishly debate, to prove ourselves right in casual conversation, really do have multiple points of view or approaches? All with valid points and conflicting examples.
And why is it that a conversation about diets shows respect for different points of view clothed in a type of diet versus the many other casual conversations where the exercise is more to prove that my belief is right and yours is wrong?
What occurred to me is that everyone in the conversation approached learning about each type of diet with curiosity. Not pre-judging them prior but rather with an interest in finding the “ultimate secret” to losing weight and becoming healthier. This focus on the goal was sincere and the same for everyone in the conversation.
Agreeing to this same goal, independently of each other & prior to this specfic conversation, changed the dynamic of the subsequent discussion in a constructive way. The search to find this “ultimate secret” made each person’s need for education similar. Even though the sources were different. Some through family and friends’ experiences, others through what they read.
This led to a symmetry or balance in the reasonable depth of knowledge that everyone demonstrated. Leaving no opportunity for one person to dominate and push everyone forcefully to adopt only their point of view. Then allowing each person to openly share their affinity for a type of diet they liked due to personal preference. Giving others the chance to do the same even though their choice might be different.
What can we learn from all of this? That on most topics, there clearly must be multiple points of view or approaches that might work. We must always be mindful of this possibility. Where agreeing on a goal or end result before exploration and discovery is helpful in promoting balance and symmetry in subsequent discussions. Making our conversations more tolerant and exploratory before adding the powerful influencer of personal preference that causes us to diverge from those around us.
And then understanding that we have our own personal preferences that influence our point of view, just like everyone else we listen to, and accepting it in others when present.