Surprising Polarization of Dress Colour Debate

WControversial Dress Colourho would have thought the colour of a dress would provide fodder for a polarizing debate between friends, family members, colleagues and even complete strangers; yet that is exactly what has played itself out on social media this week.

There is a science behind the colour perception, as described in an article in Wired Magazine, but what is more fascinating is how attached people became to their perspective, their need to have other people validate what they were seeing, to defend themselves along with the tendency to dismiss, pretty vehemently at times, the people who saw the colours differently. As if there was only one way to see it, as if everyone must see it the same way, as if, if you didn’t see it that way, there was something wrong with you or your eyesight. Dismissing out of hand the possibility that each person who viewed the picture, no matter what they saw, no matter if they saw it differently, might also be right. Many “rights”, no “wrongs”. The opportunity for a mutual exploration and expanded view was often not even on the radar of this social media frenzy.

There were surprisingly few who brought curiosity and inquiry to the discovery that different people saw different things. Yet, this is the reality of how we function in the world. Each of us has a worldview. It impacts how we see and interact with the world, events, situations and other people.  Our Worldviews influence our communication, decision-making, family dynamics and workplace cultures and most of this happens unconsciously.

Most of us have never stopped to think about what our worldview is, where it comes from, how it influences us or why it might be helpful to be aware of worldviews – that we each have one, what our own worldview is, what the worldview of others might be.

See how fast this dress colour debate exploded, hitting the radar of so many with so many different reactions: some people engaging in it fully, some people seeing the debate as foolish and a waste of time and some just standing on the edges looking in, observing but refraining from comment. Does this little scenario sound familiar? It is one that is acted out over and over again in the human dynamics of our experiences at work, in community and at home. Think of some small issue that seems completely blown out of proportion to the point it challenges relationships and even gets in the way of making progress. Some might be attached to their point of view. Some might find it hard to see the situation from someone else’s perspective or to invite and hear someone else’s story of their experience if it contradicts their own.

Maybe we only experience it as hard or challenging because we don’t have the language or a structured approach to begin such a conversation and to stay with it. Maybe if we could understand that the way we see the world, the way someone else sees the world does not make any of us right or wrong. And in a mutual exploration, how we all see the situation, the issue or the event, might expand. Maybe we would find ourselves more willing and able to bring compassion to the whole situation, ourselves and others to fuel a generative space where we can all learn, do and be more.

Worldview Intelligence provides a simple, elegant, structured approach to exploring individual and collective assumptions, beliefs and value systems with curiosity, compassion and non-judgment. It is a both an individual and an organizational exploration. It opens the potential for more comprehensive approaches and solutions to emerge on a range of issues and opportunities, including those that might be mildly oppositional to completely divisive to seemingly unsolvable. Maybe those little and large issues you and your team are grappling with at work could use a good dose of worldview exploration and the opportunity for new narratives to emerge.

(Thanks to Marc Lewis of 3 O’Clock for suggesting the post.)