Too many of us and our fellow citizens are going through life with a soldier’s mentality instead of a scout’s mindset. That’s the thesis of this thoughtful article by Julia Galef.

The basic idea is this: The soldier’s job is to fight for the cause, not to question it. When information that doesn’t support the accepted thesis appears, it’s rejected in favor of a determination to press on to victory. The scout’s job, on the other hand, is to understand the true reality, and that requires a willingness to accept new information and to adjust one’s thinking in response to it.

I’ve written before on this general thesis – the idea that truly listening with an open mind is critical. Our ability to survive and prosper as human beings depends to a significant degree on our ability to band together against the dangerous “other,” but our ability to thrive in a diverse, global world requires a willingness to be open to new ideas and tolerant of others’ viewpoints.

The problem, of course, is that when the “other” is not truly dangerous, just different, but with much in common, we unwittingly create conflict, where cooperation and collaboration would suit us better.

Those of us in corporate communication are like the scout. Our job is to scan the horizon for danger, but also to remain open to new ideas and different perspectives. In other words, to seek the truth, however inconvenient it may be. Often, we find that our colleagues, who are naturally in soldier mode, out to win for the cause, may not be receptive to new ideas that don’t fit with our group-think world view.

The CCO must be skilled, therefore, not only in understanding the “other,” but in reassuring her colleagues that in so doing, we are demonstrating loyalty, not disloyalty, to our enterprise. By bringing in valuable outside perspectives, we can prepare our troops for battle in the same way that a scout does for the platoon. We can also turn perceived or prospective enemies into allies, avoiding unnecessary battles and strengthening our organization to accomplish its mission.