Recently, I traveled to China for the first time. I was overwhelmed by the differences in culture, and language. On the flight over I asked my Chinese seatmate how to say different things in Chinese, and he politely complied. When I asked him how to say “yes,” however, he looked perplexed, as there are multiple ways to say yes, depending on the context and circumstances.
Two things hit me almost simultaneously. First, the structure of the language reflects a way of thinking that is very different from ours in the West. And second, therefore, how great would it be to have a native Chinese/Mandarin speaker in an ideation session for diversity of thought!
There is an abundance of research that shows that diversity of thought leads to better solutions to problems. Yes, it can take more time to gather and consider different perspectives, but the benefits can greatly outweigh the costs. Yet we tend to stick to what we know.
Our society is so torn at the moment because of an unwillingness to tolerate, much less appreciate or celebrate differences in thought and perspectives. An us vs. them mentality pervades the news—shootings, politics, elections, etc. How can each of us leverage diversity to unify us rather than divide us? How can we as individuals make a difference today? Please add your thoughts below.