Steer clear or invaluable peer?




Have you ever had such a high opinion of someone that you accepted their point of view as truth, or just rolled with it because it conformed with a majority, fit with your world view or it was simply easier?

Human interactions are core to our life, our work, our success; and we all have an influence on each other at different times … for better or for worse. Others’ perspectives can certainly be of value, however, they don’t exactly come with a guarantee.

When I turned up to volunteer with an organisation some years back, unbeknown to me at the time, I had the highest certification level and long-term senior volunteer Donna felt threatened. When another volunteer inquired with Donna as to what I was like, the response was derogatory. As a result, Jodie decided to steer clear of me. However, in our roles we had to interact often … and within a short time, we became best friends. (Years later she shared those derogatory comments and how she unquestioningly assumed them to be true.)

Fast forward a few years; upon starting a new job, an office clique was frequently assassinating the character of a co-worker who was on leave. No matter how vehement they were, after my experience with Donna and Jodie, I resolved to form my own opinion. I liked her instantly, we got on fantastically well and became good friends outside of work.

Conversely, in more recent times I too-easily accepted a savvy networking friend’s recommendation, and after spending thousands discovered the hard way that the consultant was a malpracticing incompetent. (It was quite a mess to clean up!)

Given we can’t review parallel paths in our lives like in the movie ‘Sliding Doors’ to see how we may have attracted or averted challenges; or created or unwittingly cut ourselves off from amazing new possibilities, friendships, partnerships and projects, the next best thing just might be to adopt a neutral position, do our own research, sharpen our observations and discernment, trust and prioritise our own experience and ask lots of questions.

… Or to put it another way; let’s not be sheeple, people!

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