If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in the past six months, it’s that anything can happen. I was completely convinced that Britain wouldn’t vote leave, and I definitely never expected Trump to win the US presidency. Yet here we are, the UK is on its way out of the EU, and Trump is set for the Whitehouse.
In the run up to Brexit, no one in my close circle wanted to leave the EU. With the Presidential campaign, I knew absolutely no one, not even a single social media acquaintance, that supported the current President Elect.
But, evidentially, there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who don’t think like I do. And this got me thinking – how was I so shielded from what other people were thinking?
There’s been lots of talk about social media sites engineering people’s news feeds to only show them what they think they will like, and while that’s true – the bubble is much bigger than this, and it’s time for it to burst.
It’s easy to assume that others share your opinions and beliefs, and it’s easy to assume that everyone is influenced and exposed to the same information you are. But we can’t expect to deal with outcomes if we never open ourselves up to the potential that they may happen, and we can’t reach out to people on the other side if we don’t even acknowledge that the other side exists.
This isn’t just an important lesson for us as individuals – businesses are just as liable as anyone else to end up trapped in a bubble.
For example, during Britain’s EU referendum – the Stronger In campaign viewed the support of experts and economists as one of their strongest cards to play, and Michael Gove was widely mocked for saying that people don’t believe in experts any more. However, he was sort of right – not everyone is influenced by the same information or people, and not everyone will respond to the same techniques.
To make a real impact with people, you have to step outside of your known universe. No matter how uncomfortable an experience it is. In order to reach everyone, then you really have to make an effort to understand everyone.