“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s there are few.” – Suzuki Roshi, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (affiliate link)
In Zen practice, beginner’s mind is the curious mind, the mind that’s completely open to what’s unfolding in front of it and free of judgments, expectations, diagnoses. Like a child’s mind, it embraces wonderment at what it’s noticing and exploring.
Beginner’s mind is a mind that’s not yet made up.
One of the gifts a workplace mediator and conflict consultant brings to clients is the ability to view the conflict with beginner’s mind. We don’t have the baggage you have. Our eyes aren’t “blindered” by prior experience with the people involved.
When I work one-on-one with individuals who want to change the way they react in interpersonal conflict, or with managers learning how to manage work conflict better, I’ll often invite them to consider the following question. And I don’t let them get away with the easy answer, the throw-away answer. So much of the most important work done in good conflict resolution is before the conversation.
If you could bring beginner’s mind to this conflict, what might you notice that you haven’t yet noticed?