My Net at Work Summer Internship Part 2: A Huddle Room Divided

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We face so many external forces urging us to choose between two. There are big binary choices such as whether to accept a marriage proposal. Then there are small ones such as between ordering a bowl or burrito at Chipotle. There are even subconscious ones including picking which side of the street to drive on. But whether it’s due to oncoming traffic or your significant other awaiting a response on one knee, so often the world seems to cohere us into choosing between two.

Unfortunately, much is inadvertently lost in any binary decision; a dichotomy emerges that falsely pits the two choices as opposites. Meanwhile, we’re rarely given the opportunity to explore how much common heritage the two share.

As I’m discovering at my summer internship, a corporate environment is particularly embedded with binary choices. In fact, any job is built on the foundation of choosing to either accept or decline an employment offer. Once working, such choices don’t subside. But that stems from a place of practicality, not of bad intentions. To illustrate, when a group faces a roadblock, in most cases voting on options is far more efficient than halting for everyone to share nuanced ideas then synthesize them. Nevertheless, there are systemic drawbacks in every choice between two.

Unanimous decisions are rare for our group of six interns. Perhaps that can be attributed to our diverse backgrounds or how our ages span six years. But sometimes, simply deciding where to eat lunch results in a huddle room divided.

Last week, us interns faced our most pivotal decision yet. Alongside our supervisors, we were to choose whether certain values aligned with our main group project. Unsurprisingly, we were split quite evenly. The dispute escalated to a point where we had to schedule a meeting to regroup, sit in a circle, and all share our candid perspectives.

When the dust settled, it turned out we had all been interpreting the question from fundamentally different angles. But strangely enough, none of our beliefs were mutually exclusive. And so, we holistically combined our ideas and moved forward- together.

But make no mistake, all of this does not simply boil down to recognizing value on the other side. No, this is a discoursive claim that there is no other side. Rather, when we frame our lives through choices, our minds lay claim to a gestalt temptation to organize information and perpetuate “us versus them” mentalities. Two points have no implicit relativity without an observer; choices are only oppositional when we choose between them.

So, how do we reconcile with this problematization of binary choices in the workplace? How do we balance the inherent drawbacks with practicality? Is this all just much ado about nothing? Accordingly, I won’t present any options, especially not two.

Click here to read part 1
Click here to read part 3