Challenge your preconceptions

I worked with a gentleman once upon a time whose ideals around software development were the polar opposite of mine.  He held a higher position in the company than me or my team and we often suffered from decisions he made.

For many years we worked at the same company, but never on a project together and for that I was thankful.  Then, one fateful day I was put on a project alongside him.  I was hoping that he would simply act as a domain expert and leave the software planning to me.

Alas, that was not meant to be.  I walked into his office to talk about how we were going to tackle this project, expecting to have to defend my approach and found out that he was very receptive to my ideas.  As we continued to work together, I was continuously surprised that we held the same views on a number of things.  There were still things that we held opposing views on, but there were certainly a lot more points where we agreed than I would ever have imagined.

Sound familiar?

Is there someone that you work with, or know, that you think is your opposite?  They don’t believe in anything that you do?  They are stubborn and unwilling to change or listen to your ideas?

I think we all have someone like this in our lives.  I would challenge you to get to know that person a little better.  Talk to them, take them to lunch (a group lunch might work well if there is a lot of animosity between the two of you).  Try to drop all of your preconceived notions about them and learn who they really are.  You probably have a lot more in common with them than you would ever have realized.

If you can see someone as “like you” rather than “other”, working with them will become much easier.  You will be more likely to empathize with them than demonize them.


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