Most of us have been aware that these last few days the internet has been consumed with debates over the actual color of a particular dress. Millions of people worldwide took to social media to try to make sense of why no one could agree on whether it was white and gold, or blue and black. I, for one, was involved in this disagreement and tried very hard to understand what was actually happening–not with the color of the dress, but with what the problem was telling us. This dress would’ve never gotten so much attention if it wasn’t for, wait for it…disagreement. Not just any disagreement but something I call “Blind Disagreement”. It’s a type of opposite point of view where one or both people are completely “blind” to what someone is seeing or saying. Appropriate given the story, right?
Personally, I saw gold and white at first, and the people around me were frustrated because they saw blue and black. And no matter how much we bantered, we still could only see what our eyes showed us. That’s when I decided to try something different.
I first had to accept that what they see is not what I see, and that’s ok for now. But then it hit me! What if the color of the dress and people not agreeing on what they saw was something more important. What if this was a much bigger problem, like the color of a traffic light or even something more poetic like opinions on religion or politics and both sides could only see what they saw!
I decided to accept that we were both seeing the same thing but in a completely different way. Then, I looked hard at what was white to me but blue to others, and given the lighting of the picture I chose to accept how someone could see blue. After seeing how someone could view it as something different, I zoomed in on what I saw as white and asked a few people what they saw. “Blue!”, they all replied. I was not expecting that. I expected that once I showed them very closely what was white to me, it would suddenly become white to them even though they saw blue the entire time.
I had to seriously rethink how to get them to at least understand what I saw, just like I had accepted what they saw. Here is where this all connects! That is when I looked down and noticed that the desk I was sitting at was, in fact, white. Now I know that the desk is white but to be safe I had to find something that they knew was white. So I looked and found a wait for it…white board. Something undeniably consistent that matched what I saw that could possibly open their eyes to see it how I saw it.
So once again I zoomed into what I saw as white, but this time I held it up to the white board. I looked at them and asked, “What color do you see?”. I watched as their eyes shifted from the board, to the dress and back to the board. Then one person in the group of three, looked up to me in confusion and said, “It’s white”. I was in complete disbelief and the others squinted in disbelief with me! They all, one after another, answered the same exact way.
But wait…what changed here? Certainly it wasn’t the dresses actual color! Ready for this? What changed was their perspective or their “Reference Point”. You see, this whole dress phenomena has taught me something about people and about life in general. No matter how far away your ideals are from somebody else’s, (or in this case how bad your vision may be) there is always a common factor.
But the difference between getting people to fully understand where you are coming from and never being able to see eye-to-eye, lies in your ability to successfully show someone else–another perspective. The one that YOU see. And maybe, just maybe you will show them something new and they will, in turn, show others what you showed them.
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