There was a man who set out to make the perfect chair. He got sick of sitting all day at his office in chairs that caused him a variety of different complaints and decided to do something about it.
He took surveys, talked to body workers, got to intimately understand what was needed to truly make a chair that could support the health of the person sitting in it.
The chair that he came up with was a revolution. Its design was somewhat space age. For the material to be breathable and the frame to be flexible, it had had something of an exoskeleton you could see from the outside.
It looked very different from the standard design of what we had come to accept chairs looked like.
Everyone who sat in it agreed that this was one heck of a chair.
He finally got to the stage where he was happy with his product and decided to release it to the market.
His chair was met with numerous awards in design and product shows. On a professional-to-professional level his chair was a huge success.
The only thing was, when it came to selling the chair, the sales bombed. No-one wanted to buy it.
This went on for years. And years.
Until finally sales started to increase. The chair gained traction. People started to appreciate it. And it snowballed from there.
The chair in question became the highest selling chair of its type ever. But it took a long time to get to that point. *
Why was that so? All this time, nothing about the chair had changed.
It happened because it was different. And different can take some getting used to.
It turns out that there’s a lot more behind the psychology of “I don’t like that” than you might think.
“I don’t like that” can mean literally that. But it’s also the phrase many people use when they either don’t understand something or are seeing something that challenges the commonly accepted frameworks they are used to.
In the case of the chair, it was the latter. Most of us have an unconscious, stock standard model in our brain for what we expect to see when we see a chair. And when we are greeted with something different, our first response is often rejection instead of curiosity.
Chairs may not be the example that most of us relate to, but there are many things that come up in our life and horsing adventures that we reject, or experience rejection around simply because they are different.
From a professional point of view, I recognize this phenomenon might come into play when I introduce a body of work that may not be familiar or challenges the norms.
From a training point of view, if I train outside the box of what most people are used to, I know come to expect skepticism more than acceptance, especially in the first instance.
And in myself, I’m careful not to reject something- or to observe my rejection should it arise- and did a little deeper to understand it more.
Is it truly not for me? Or is that the wall I’ve thrown up simply because it’s new, or I don’t understand it?
*This is a true story. The book I read this example in escapes my mind currently but I’m coming back to reference it shortly when I’ve found it!