Our mental models enable us to make sense of the world. However, we are conditioned by what we see, think, and feel. We tell ourselves a story about a particular situation or person, and we generally stick to it unless we have the courage and the capacity to discern it in a way that enables us to question our beliefs and understandings. When we do not, we exude an ontological arrogance. Ontological arrogance means that one believes their view of reality is the only view of reality. This leads people who exude ontological arrogance to manage up and manage down to have others engage in their view of the world.
How do we mitigate ontological arrogance to be open to possibilities?
Ontological humility is the answer. Ontological humility recognises different ways of being, doing and relating. It acknowledges that we all have our ways of seeing the world and invites us to seek to understand the perspectives of others (Kofman, 2013). To engage in ontological humility, we use three key strategies. The first is critical thinking. When we allow ourselves the opportunity to think, we explore direct and indirect perspectives about the issue at hand. We clarify, challenge, and consider possibilities. The second strategy is investing in the art of questioning. Open-ended, thought-provoking questions that examine the ‘why’ of perceptions and their potential impact on reality need to be asked. The third strategy is to invest in a well-trained, insightful mentor who invites individuals and teams to develop and understand themselves first to work with others effectively.
In my work, I am privileged to listen to the hearts and minds of those I serve. My focus is to support them at their point of need. So, to be aware of and practically engage in mitigating our blind spots, we need to understand and see what is in ourselves before we know what is in front of us. The inductive process enables us to observe and use the acquired data to modify existing understandings or create new mental models. The deductive process involves using what we know and believe (mental model) to mitigate what is before us and act accordingly.
So, honestly, how many blind spots do you have?