Have you ever had this experience? You’ve been in a meeting at work and later after the meeting you were in the break room talking about the meeting with a co-worker and felt like you had been in the same different meeting? Or when someone you were speaking to heard something totally different than what you said?
Well it turns out this happens all the time. You can be at an event with someone and walk away with a totally different experience. It’s how we are wired! We each have our own context based on our experiences, our attitude, our beliefs and even our opinions. In other words we take in those things that agree with how we view and experience the world and we reject those that don’t!!!!
Let me give you an example. Think about a place you don’t like, maybe a restaurant in which not only was the food horrible, it was overpriced and the service was awful. Now a co-worker starts talk about this same restaurant and they loved it!! They talk about the food and what a great experience they had. Do you buy it? No, it does not match up to your experience.
Now let’s say someone else joins in the conversation and they share a similar positive experience. Do you believe them that this is a great restaurant? No, now you wonder why you’ve ever shared a meal out with these two! Obviously their taste is not as refined as yours.
Now lets say another co-worker joins the conversation and they share that the restaurant has horrible reviews on Yelp. Do you believe that person? Of course you do. The reason is their context matches up to yours. In fact, you’ve never even completed a review on Yelp and now have them show you how to do it so you can add your opinion on this restaurant!!!
Silly example? Maybe. And yet this happens all the time because of how we filter information coming into our brain and what our brain decides it needs to filter. We can’t possibility take it all in. In fact, studies conducted on this reveals about 2million bits of information are flooding our brains every second. Once our brain has filtered information out we actually only process about 126 (+/- 7) bits of information consciously!!!! That is a lot of data that never reaches our conscious awareness.
In simple terms we all filter data and information based on our own world view. If you think the world sticks you’ll find enough data and information to support that. If you believe the world is amazing and people are doing the best they can, then you’ll find enough to support that view as well. The issue is not whether or not your context is right or wrong. The real question? Is it working for you? Is your context getting you what you want?
So the next time you find yourself experiencing the same, different meeting, or a conversation you had was misunderstood, stay curious. Instead of wanting to prove your own position, ask questions, lean in and find out how they see the situation. The goal is not to agree with it just simply to understand someone else perspective. Give it a try!