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Individual Thinking vs. Group Thinking

Dec 18, 2007
There must be POWER in collective decision-making. We guess it is safer to say group thinking is more reliable than individual thinking. Throughout human history there is a secret consensus within shared cultures that uphold great societies, countries and civilizations and they had their 15 minutes of fame.

The fine line in teamwork is: do you tend to create differences with others or make the difference for others? Creating differences requires you assert ego. Making the difference requires you assert a self-standing principle which others may not be aware of but you know it's your job to make them understand your point of view for the benefit of themselves.

Sometimes, you must be prepared that your team mates will reject a 'principle' as 'your idea', and then every moment becomes a question of whether to follow the majority and go the wrong way or stick to oneself and believe it is the right way, and vice versa.

The twist of this article is individuality in a TEAM is important for self-preservation when you know how to master it. First, it is quite logical to say very creative people are hardly conformists, but they must train themselves long and hard to examine and conclude their own strength of character.

When you're right, do you really stand up to the group? Or do you talk yourself into convenient compromises? Do you listen to what everybody else says before you form your own opinion? Do you adjust your opinion so that it hews more closely to the group consensus?

If you can't rely on guidance from the group, you'd better have a damn good replacement or you've got to develop a talent for ferocious self-criticism. If you're going to stand up for your principles, you'd better make sure those principles are right. It's easy to stand up for your ego; it takes nothing more than the flick of a hormone to let ego run rampant. Generally speaking, many assertive people are not truly intellectually assertive; they are merely egotistically assertive. To do this well, you must develop an idea-attacking demon that assaults ideas (especially you on yourself) from every possible angle. Only an idea that can survive the meat grinder is worthy of further consideration.

Preserving your individuality against group thinking does not prevent you from soliciting the advice of those whose judgment you respect. More likely, you'll be weighing the difference in opinions before coming to a decision.

We're sure it happened to you that after carefully inquiring into the details of a recommended course of action and after much discussion, you announce you will take the opposite course of action! It sounds like you have wasted your mates' time. The trick here is that the value your confidants lies not in the actual recommendations but in the reasoning behind the recommendations. The question is: Are you sure your own reasonings will work for you? Or is it out of your comfort zone to accept their reasonings when the recommendations are obviously good? So you don't make decisions based on what your advisors "vote for"; your decisions are based on the soundness of the reasoning. If they offer no more arguments that you had not already anticipated, then you can conclude that your own thinking is sound and you proceed with it. On the other hand, your confidants' ability to surprise you is their trick to impress you to the point of changing your mind.

This is a very, very difficult subject to act on if easier to just write about. Your path in life very much hinges on this. As a team player yourself, be always prepared for group disapproval and balance group contribution for the common good with a robust process of self-criticism augmented with solicited criticism from mates as time demands.
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Nelson Tan is the webmaster behind Internet Mastery Center. Download $347 worth of FREE Internet Marketing gifts!
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