Rigid thinkers cling tightly to preconceptions and generalizations, and often react with fear or hostility in the face of unexpected change or challenges. Jagg Xaxx, eHow
This week I had an unexpected and jaw dropping encounter. I was at a potential client’s manufacturing plant, discussing a family business situation with which he is struggling. I’d met this guy twice before and had liked his unpretentious manner. He approached me at our last meeting and said he wanted to talk about how some issues have persisted at his business for a long time and he was confounded in his efforts to improve things. This is right in line with the work I do, so I was eager to hear more.
At his office, we sat out in the small lobby with deserted offices at an old conference table. It was an ill-lit space because the empty office lights were off with only one person coming back and forth from the plant to the office from time to time. As he talked, the business owner told me a little about what was going on with his children, his son-in-law and the obese guy he’d had to fire not to long ago because he could barely raise himself from his chair and was useless at anything that didn’t allow him to sit at his computer.
Suddenly, he stopped that line of talk and started talking about how difficult it was to do business with that “Muslim in the White House!” He went on to say that the president, while not known to many, is really a Muslim who is out to undermine the U.S. “George Soros (one of the wealthiest capitalists in the world) and those other communists” are out to impose their perverse values on the American people. I was shocked and perhaps he saw it in my face.
Immediately, after my jaw metaphorically hit the table top, part of me wanted to call him a paranoid, low-information voter, get up and leave. But then I thought, I never discuss politics or religion with clients anyway and I’m not going to now. So, I stayed put. He got back on message and we discussed his situation a little more. He needs some help, I like the money and this is what I do.
After I left I thought, part of this man’s problems lie in the fact of what one of my teachers said to me many years ago, “rigid thinking.” When we go into any situation with our mind made up, believing beyond doubt that we are right and, “By god, we’ll go down swinging to our graves before we’ll change!” we’re stuck. It’s hard to make any progress. I had said to him, “I’ll tell you the truth as I see it in your situation. You may have some difficult decisions to make.” It will be interesting to see if he’s willing to be open to expanded ways of thinking, a prerequisite if anything good is to come.