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Echo chambers: What are they and why we should be aware of them.

When we hear “diversity”, we often think of how people look, but "thought diversity" is just as important.

Whether you're online or face to face with people, likelihood is, most of your real conversations are in your 'echo chamber': "an environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own, so that their existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered."

Your social media scroll and news feed reflect the things you've liked and clicked on because it's interesting to you. It's a mirror of your interests and thoughts. Consider who knows what you're into best - your best friend, your partner, or your search bar?

Many of us spend more time at work than anywhere else - same profession, similar education level, same environment - sure there may be outliers and diverse clients but if you're at work now, look around and consider, who you choose to talk to most?

Sometimes we delve in to the "other side" - maybe we read the comments on a news item, or get in to a debate on twitter, but often the quality of the arguments are so poor they quickly turn in to fallacies and personal attacks (“Everyone knows…”, "your profile pic shows...", “your mum…”) we quickly retreat, muttering to ourselves how stupid the other person is, mainly because they didn't agree with us. 

We're tribal creatures. We're hard wired to want acceptance and to be drawn to those like us. We trust people who are like us more than "others".

Ok, Captain obvious, but why is this bad?

Because we know, we don't grow when we stay in our comfort zone. We aren't challenged if we are constantly surrounded by "yes" people. We don't question our opinions, our way of thinking, our way of doing business, or try new interests and careers.

Being challenged on our opinions forces us to reflect on why we hold them. Sometimes we realise that actually, that core belief we’ve held for years actually has no basis and may be holding us back.

In business, this kind of reflection can bring in new customers, help us try new things and ensure we are working to our values and respecting those of others.

Just because you disagree with someone, doesn't mean you dislike them. Respectful debate is needed more than ever in our increasingly binary world.

And what if, you, reading this, is actually 'wrong' in some of your beliefs or assumptions?

When did you last step out of your echo chamber? 

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