People in powerful or dominant positions can easily fall into the trap of believing that the rest of the world thinks the same way as they do.
They often don’t realise how much they control the medium and the agenda which limits the number of differing opinions they may hear. This unconscious control reinforces their worldview and restricts their ability to listen for new ideas.
Recently our local newspaper started publishing opinion pieces by members of minority groups. These are articles are written by, among others, young people, Maori and transgender writers. Their opinions diverge considerably from what people have been used to reading in the paper.
The reaction and letters to the editor showed that many readers were affronted that their paper should publish articles critical of their (mainstream) view of the world. This has sometimes been labelled as the fragility of the dominant class.
Because they are dominant they do not have to listen to minority groups.
The majority of people are like them and reinforce their views of the world. When they hear opposing views, especially when they are published in mainstream media, they are somehow offended by these ideas.
Privilege is often invisible to the privileged one. Their privilege can leave them feeling threatened and even victimised because they are not used to hearing opposing ideas.
If you are a team leader or manager you may be in a position of relative privilege. Be aware of how you control the media and the agenda. Take steps to make sure you can listen so that others will speak.
It takes courage to listen to someone who has opposing views of the world.
For more tips on how you can improve your listening skills and how you react to others, pick up a copy of our book here