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One reason it’s difficult to understand each other is that behind the words we use are the worldviews, the emotions and the beliefs we have before we even consider what’s being said.

Before we get to right and wrong, good or bad, effective or ineffective, we begin with worldview. 

They affect the way we choose a car, engage in a conversation or vote. These cultural and learned worldviews alter the way we see and hear and speak.

Words like: Fairness, change, interference, freedom, responsibility and opportunity trigger different reactions based on worldview. It’s always easier to encourage action based on an existing worldview than it is to change that view.

The columns below don’t line up for everyone (or anyone), but instead highlight different instincts on different axes on how each of us see the world in any given moment…

















An all-powerful authorityTreat others as you’d
want to be treated
Confidence, results,
right now, right later
Exploration, truth, working toward perfect, always a little wrong
Self-respect,
power, agency, taking space
Role awareness, dignity,
giving space, flexibility
Deserve, entitled, keepShare, distribute, invest
EffectsSide effects
Ends and meansMeans and ends
Getting things doneListening, speaking up
and being heard
Patriotism, nationalism,
the homeland
Community, ecology,
the system
Power, authority, compliance, respect, statusFairness, hope, justice,
connection, healing
Profit-seekingPublic utility
IntuitiveInformed
Realism, denialOptimism, pessimism
Rewards, incentives,
victory, spoils
Equity, fairness and
the alleviation of suffering
Urgency, triumph,
security, impulse
Self control,
long-term thinking, wisdom
VengeanceForgiveness
Zero-sumWin-win

Once we understand the landscape that someone sees, we have an easier time using words and images to fill in that landscape, to create a story that they can hear and understand, and, perhaps, we can make change happen.

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Our worldview casts a shadow in the words that resonate