Lessons From The Opposite

In today’s world we are all persuaded to filter in sources and relationships that support our personal beliefs. If you take a brief moment to scroll up and down a friends timeline on Facebook, you will likely yield a similar finding. While there are benefits to surrounding yourself with likeminded individuals, when this happens we often miss out on the valuable perspective of the opposite. I feel that this chapter does an excellent job expressing the importance for understanding those differently than yourself. The authors utilize a word called contraxioms in order to shed light on contrasting worldviews. In a way, the thoughts and messages conveyed in this chapter are indeed a contraxiom to the social trends of today. I hope to shed light on lessons you can learn from someone that may have pending views and experiences that contrast from your own.


Contraxioms are explained in the book as a conceptual framework that we can use to analyze contrasting groups of individuals. In this specific case, geeks and non geeks. Now our beloved authors picked out seven major contraxioms that exist between geeks and non-geeks. For the sake of time I will only unpack two that strike me as significant. For starters, geeks and non geeks have a different views on the purpose of language. Geeks will utilize language for the strict purpose of transmitting information. A geek wishes to take their ideas and reproduce that same idea inside another’s mind. When this happens, a geek has successfully communicated with the other person. Geeks compose their sentences with concrete and factual information and tends speak in a very literal tone. In contrast, a non geek will utilize language in order to share meaning. Rather than an attempt to pollinate another mind with an identical idea, non geeks are aiming toward triggering a shared inner state between the speaker and the listener. It’s much more about building a relationship or sharing an experience.

Another contraxiom that stands between these two focus groups is a difference in the meaning of work.  For a geek, work is about solving problems. Naturally, a geek will set up their world on a problem-solution basis. This provides them with an applicable structured approach to working out every day situations. The majority of times it results in a geek applying step-by-step processes to make it through their day. This keeps a geeks focus on the present, as they progress through each step into a better future. The non geek looks at work as an opportunity to achieve a vision. This vision is an imagined future that is more desirable for the non geek. Rather than starting with the here and now, a non geek will start with the future in mind and begin working backwards in order to reach their end goal.


Now that we can see how the contraxiom framework is presented, we can now ask ourselves how can contraxioms be practically beneficial to each of the parties? Recognizing and adjusting to another’s axioms can help see the world from their shoes. For instance, my entire life has been spent underneath the poverty line within an inner city. I’ve witnessed alcoholism and domestic violence first hand. From a very young age, the amount of censorship on my life has been miniscule to none. When I came to Greenville College, I was paired with two guys that I felt came from completely contrasting backgrounds. Both of them came from unbroken households and were financially well off. Coming into my freshman year, I felt that I had nothing to learn from my roommates. Four years have gone by since then and I can honestly say that I was foolish for thinking this.

I was foolish for writing off my roommates contraxioms as invaluable. I’ve learned that when we as people can identify, comprehend, and accept those that differ from us we can, in turn, become more well rounded individuals. Accepting contraxioms from others gives both parties an opportunity for a mutually beneficial enlightenment. If I had been paired with likeminded individuals in the Fall of 2014, I would not be graduating from Greenville College in May of this year. So it’s safe to say that at least in my life, contraxioms have made all the difference.



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