When we are faced with new stimuli, we resort to a quick reference guide to help orientate our understanding. The shortcuts rely heavily on pre-existing knowledge to fast track the process.

We essentially ask only one question. “Is this similar to my default reality or radically different?” When we encounter a new culture, city, language or experience, we plot it on this continuum for every variable that confronts us. This way, we easily adjust to our reality and conduct ourselves in a way that secures our psychological safety.

As with all shortcuts, they help get a handle quickly, but they fail to accommodate for the nuances. They treat the continuum of subtleties as only a binary of two extremes. For short term exposure, it will serve its purpose. When the exposure is more long term, the framework should be adjusted.

Failure to adjust our framework will lead to a number of social complexities like bias, disrespect and isolation.

Don’t treat long term stays like vacations.

Engage new relationships in a way that ensures long term potential.

Appreciate the nuance.

Markus Spiske

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