Connections happen in the gray area. It’s where we overlap with others, where we have the greatest opportunities to connect. It’s when we go to either extreme that we inherently set ourselves up for a disconnect.
Naturally, some people choose to only be connected with those who share their opinions. For them, extremism is intentional. There is a desire not to connect with people who feel differently about a given issue. This blog post is not for people who operate as extremists. That self-limiting choice can’t be adequately addressed in just 500 words.
Rather, this post is intended for people who want to make connections and are willing to seek out common ground as opposed to hunkering down in their own beliefs.
The best leaders have strong opinions but are also willing to understand the opinions of others. They look for the overlap, the gray area, that enables these connections.
When we are polarized, we repel others instead of attracting them to us.
When we are immovable in our position, we can’t connect with others who are also immovable.
When we close ourselves off with a defensive position or one that is restrictive, we miss out on connections because we don’t invite others in. By not attempting to understand others, we discourage them from trying to understand us, too.
When we adopt a very narrow view, we make it difficult to connect with others. Our narrow view limits the pathway to us and from us.
Leaders who open themselves up to others make the best use of the gray area possible. They get informed. They establish credibility because they are not extremists. They bring others along with them simply by being reasonable and interested enough to dignify others.
To be a leader, you must have followers. If the only followers you allow are those who already believe the same way you do, you’re going to miss out. It’s impossible to be absolutely right all the time. Being extreme in your point of view dooms you to miss out on others’ contributions and ideas.
When you find yourself talking in absolutes, push yourself to go more toward the middle. You don’t have to stay there or change what you believe automatically. This isn’t about being wishy-washy. Instead, it’s about being inclusive and informed.
By connecting with others instead of trying to win every argument, you will end up winning wars instead of battles.
This blog post is part of the CONNECT! Community’s November focus on connecting with others. As a leader, you will be able to CONNECT2Lead authentically and effectively when you are able to establish and sustain meaningful workplace relationships with others. Be sure to subscribe to the CONNECT2Lead Blog for weekly tips and techniques on leading with a people first approach.