We think differently but communicate the same way - Why?

Updated: Nov 1, 2019

"One of the biggest mistakes we make is assuming other people think the same way we think." ~ Unknown

We all know that 'group think' is bad and diverse ideas and thinking is good for innovation and progress. We seek it out when we recruit, when we form teams to work on challenge projects, when we form leadership teams, boards, etc. - well we intend to anyway. But when we are successful at getting this diverse group together there is often a lot of friction - why?

On the one hand we know we all have a different point of view, but on the other, we assume that we are all thinking about the situation in the same way - we don't. We all draw on different experiences, different backgrounds and different beliefs which means we think differently.

The friction and frustration comes into play because we all try to communicate with each other assuming that we are 'thinking the same way' i.e. we attribute the same meaning to things, we make the same connections, we have same beliefs, etc. It can be hard for us to imagine there is any other way to view the situation or come to any other conclusion.

We need people who think differently to us, we encourage it and build it in to the ways we work and then we expect everyone to make it work. To be more confident it will work we need to improve our communication skills, specifically - listening to understand, asking questions to clarify or confirm understanding, check assumptions. We also need to remind ourselves that everyone has the same intent - to solve the problem in the most effective way to get desired results.

So think differently and communicate differently!