It is one of the most frequent arguments and we hear people say it all the time: “it’s just common sense”. Strangely though, it is usually used when arguing a point the majority does not share.
I hear it so frequently in business, usually said with great frustration. What is said is – “it’s common sense” – but what is meant is “why can’t everybody see this the way I do”?
If you want to truly get to understand someone else’s point of view, you have to give up your own assumptions of what they mean, and what their motivation may be. And just listen. Really listen. Observe the background and the environment. You do not have to agree, but can you empathise?
This approach is not “common sense”. This can be one of the hardest things to do – especially if you are feeling angry or hurt.
And this weekend we saw an example of what I would call absolute Uncommon Sense. A man doing his job to the very best of his ability, and doing it very well, was subjected to an unnecessary and insulting racial taunt.
However instead of launching a counter attack, this footballer Adam Goode, responded with empathy and forgiveness.
To me this incident was particularly remarkable, because I have investigated and mediated many incidents of bullying and harassment in the workplace, and what I have observed is that the most common response is one of anger and counter attack.
But instead Adam Goode took time out, he thought about it, and he looked at the issue from the other person’s perspective. He gave an impassioned speech asking for everyone to forgive the young person who made the comment; he asked everyone to accept that she did not understand what she had said.
Adam Goode changed the debate with his response. The “attacked” was not the “victim”; he became the humble hero. And the young girl, instead of trying to justify her behaviour, offered a heart felt apology.
Not the expected response, not the common response, certainly not the response “common sense” would predict.
Adam Goode has demonstrated to everyone the extraordinary power of Uncommon Sense.