Time to read: 3 mins
A while ago (a long time ago) I watched an episode of Comedian in Cars Getting Coffee. As the title suggests, the show is about comedians in cars getting coffee with the host Jerry Seinfeld. It’s a good combination of cars, comedy and coffee.
I watched an episode where the guest was Chris Rock. Jerry picked him up in a 1969 Lamborghini 400s Miura. The dialogue and comedy were great. Then there were some remarks about arguing both sided that got my attention.
A dialogue with Chris Rock
Chris: The ability to talk to a lot of people is freakish
Chris: Anyplace where there is a microphone people want me to speak, a funeral and book signing someone’s birthday. It doesn’t matter where I am.
Jerry: There is no subject that you can’t handle, you (as a comedian) have given some thought to almost everything.
Chris: We are professional arguers. Not only can we argue, but we argue either sides.
Chris: If you walked into a school and saw your kid talking to 500 kids you think your kid was possessed.
A Freakish Ability
For Chris, the ability to speak to a lot of people and successfully holds their attention comes down to being able to see both sides. He demonstrated this when hosting the 2016 Oscar Awards.
Despite the protests for the lack of diversity of the Nominees, he was able to entertain the majority of actors while still acknowledging the issues that lead to other actors boycotting the event. It was a difficult situation; to talk in front of your peers about a very sensitive topic, where anyone could have been easily offended.
Seeing both sides
When solving a problem that involves negotiating or mediation. We usually don’t spend enough time on the other side of the fence. We may be able to see things from another person’s perspective but only for a short period of time.
By only briefly acknowledging someone else point of view; we can only briefly break out of our own biases before we return to own arguments and points of views that we are comfortable and familiar with.
Less time on the other side
Some of the reasons why we avoid ‘the other side’ is due to our inbuilt biases. A point of view different from our own may cause some discomfort or may contradict our own beliefs. This is known as Selective Perception (i.e. the tendency not to notice and more quickly forget stimuli that cause emotional discomfort and contradict our prior beliefs)
We also have a tendency to tune out when listening because we assume we know how others feel. This bias is known as the Illusion of Transparency (i.e. The tendency to overestimate how well we understand the personal mental states of others)
More time on the other side
By spending more time on the other side we can move from sympathy (a glib acknowledgment) to empathy (a personal understanding).
Having empathy builds trust between two parties and helps to build an environment that is collaborative, supportive, inclusive and sustainable. Having empathy also makes you feel good!
The only question is, which side is smart enough to go first?