Next, let’s talk about how we respond to an adult who is reasoning at a grade-school or teenager cognitive level, thereby reacting to our differences in opinion or purpose.
First, let’s offer respect and have compassion. Consider how uncomfortable it must be for that individual to be in an adult body yet still be stuck at that level of reasoning. Right, the individual is likely stuck and feels uncomfortable within himself or herself, even if it is not showing up in the moment. It is likely the individual desires to break out of this immaturity but does not know how.
Isn’t that exactly what happens with real-life grade-school aged children or teenagers? The grade-schooler wants to break out of life as a grade schooler to have the perceived privileges of a teenager. The teenager wants the perceived freedoms of adulthood.
As a next step, offer the person a chance to grow. Listen, reflect back, and then share your opinion in a respectful and kind manner. Try not to be defensive because grade-schoolers and teenagers can react to defensiveness. Just express yourself in a calm yet potentially passionate manner. Watch what happens. Is this person able to consider an opinion that is different from their own? If so, you are offering this person a gift, the chance to grow through the opportunity of seeing another way of thinking. If the person is not interested in seeing an alternative view, then this individual is making a small choice in the moment to remain stuck. Considering an alternative perspective in addition to our own is what helps us to mature into a deeper level of reasoning ability to deal with more complex issues.
When we run into “stuck-ness,” it is best to name what it is (immature reasoning), and not react to it. Your boundary or consequence with the individual is that you can go no deeper in the conversation or even relationship unless the person is able to acknowledge and give credence to your opinion and perspective as well as their own.
If someone is solely focused on their own perspective being the only view, then it is going to be difficult to have an open, healthy conversation where you both can learn from one another and potentially resolve a more complex issue.
What we need today is a level of cognitive and emotional reasoning ability that can hold multiple perspectives together in an integrated way. In other words, those individuals who can consider multiple truths or realities at one time will likely be more able to lead us toward finding creative solutions to today’s complex problems.
This is why and where we need the other 50% of our adult population to show up, speak up and remain engaged! The other (approximately) 50% of adults today are able to reason with logic, emotion and a level of self-control so that respectful dialogue and disagreement can take place for learning, growth and making positive change together.
As an expert in leadership, teams and organization health, the course toward making change quickly yet in a way that will stick is through respectful dialogue, disagreement, and creative problem solving. Screaming, using hate speech, degrading and abusing others, rioting, and destroying property don’t help to resolve complex problems; those behaviors only make things worse and set us back. Those behaviors reveal someone’s maturity level, at that of a grade-schooler or teenager, even though the behaviors come from people in adult bodies. See the behavior for what it is, immature reasoning.
Do adults who behave immaturely still have a voice, yes. Are these adults capable of solving today’s complex problems, no.
I am an advocate for all voices to have a chance to express themselves. At the same time, I am going to quickly assess the level of reasoning that I hear from each voice: is it grade-school or teenage or adult level reasoning? While I will listen respectfully to the first two voices, it is those with adult level reasoning that I will engage in resolving today’s complex issues.
Each of us has a choice to make in how we think/speak, who we listen to, what we act upon, and how we behave. God helps us to make wise and mature choices.
Contact information for speaking, training, consulting, coaching and writing:
Dr. Jeanine Parolini, PhD, MBA, MA