Have you ever felt that you’re the youngest/naivest/dumbest person in a group? Or have you felt this for everyone else but yourself, in the same group – wondering why you’re so against what they’re proposing? Have you nevertheless still nodded your head in agreement and given into the conformity pressure?
Well this is not new to the world. What social psychologists call #GroupThink has been in the world since the time we all decided to group together to hunt and survive.
There are examples of it from across the many scriptures. Pontius Pilate gave into the pressure of groupthink when he washed his hands off his decree of crucifying Jesus despite being against it. In Mahabharata stalwarts like Bhishma gave into groupthink letting Duryodhana carry out the harrowing act of disgracing Draupadi in full house courtroom. In all the examples that I can think of, groupthink has led to more chaos which a healthy debate could have prevented!
Even today this situation is ever present in our corporate offices, in our family whatsap groups even among our peer circles where we find it hard to dissent to an idea being presented. We think that speaking out might reduce our likeability, people might laugh off at us, it might even cost us our job/dignity/social standing or might even land us up in jail – since free speeches are being monitored by the Govts.
In today’s day and age where the herd mentality and giving in to authority is on all time high, how can we ensure we are not all together heading into the doomsland? Here’s what a newly elected Barrack Obama had to say in 2008 as he put together his social security team:
“I assembled this team because I am a strong believer in strong personalities and strong opinions. I think that’s how the best decisions are made. One of the dangers in a White House, based on my readings of history, is that you get wrapped up in groupthink, and everybody agrees with everything, and there are no discussions, there are no dissenting views. So, I am going to be welcoming a vigorous debate in the White House.”
Let’s put our ego trips aside for a while, and open our families,teams,groups,lives to open discussions and dissenting opinions to create a better world around us!