Why it’s a good idea to find unlike-minded people

The ah-ha moments are often when we mix with people who are not like us.

I’ve been bothered several times recently with people talking about how great it is to meet and network with like-minded people.

I’m not in disagreement – it definitely is. But it comes with a word of caution.

We’re inclined to like people who are like us. It is affirming to meet like-minded people. People we get on with. It’s in our comfort zone to meet people with similar interests, backgrounds and view on life. That’s one of the reasons why we recruit in our own image. Whether consciously or subconsciously we think ‘I could get on with them’ or ‘I’d like to work with them’. It feels safe.

Nothing wrong with that.

However, gradually over the years our teams are made up of like-minded people who tend to see the world through the same lens. Who think in the same way. Who confirm to organisational norms and who perpetuate ‘the way things are done.’

The ah-ha moments are often when we mix with people who are not like us.

When we meet or work with people with different backgrounds and different perspectives, we are challenged to see another point of view. People who are unlike us challenge our thinking and the organisational culture of ‘how we do things here.’  People unlike us are less likely to be drawn into ‘group think’. They are more likely to challenge how things are done.

And it’s when we meet people unlike us that ideas collide, and bounce off each other. And these conversations spark change and  through them we find a better way.

It’s our own responsibility to gently push ourselves out of our comfort zone every so often and find unlike minded people.  I don’t mean that we must find conflict or deviate from our fundamental values, just to deliberately challenge ourselves to seek out new conversations and different points of view.

It could be as simple as reading a newspaper, magazine or website with views different to your own. Watch a different TV programme. Go to a networking event where you’ll meet people you don’t already know.

It’s great to mix with like-minded people but it’s also insightful, stimulating and challenging to purposefully seek out some unlike-minded people.

You might find some at the next Lucidity Network and Not9to5 networking event on Thursday 1 December in London. I’d love you to come. More information and sign up here.

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