Independent thinkers are extremely useful to organisations, families and society in general, but they are uncomfortable for the masses, and we don't like them much.
Independent thinkers perceive the world around them with their own twist instead of being handed information and accepting it. They analyse situations using their own judgment rather than conforming to public opinion. Independent thinkers are critical thinkers, they stay loyal to themselves and aren't afraid to go against the opinion of the majority. Not because they are looking for conflict but because they have the confidence (due to their high level of critical thinking skills) that they are right.
Unfortunately, history tells us that independent thinkers have often been ridiculed, criticised, prosecuted, or even killed; John Snow, Ignaz Semmelweis, Galileo Galilei, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Margaret Fuller, Nikola Tesla etc.
So why don't we like independent thinkers at work? They will critically view everything, and we cannot stand that. I previously wrote about it. Check it out. The traits of critical thinkers are the foundation of independent thinking, but it goes beyond that. In addition,:
They don't seek validation from others. If they know something is right, they go and say or do it. They will not wait for the validation or approval of others.
They are not likely to identify with any political or religious views because they wouldn't follow or believe anything blindly. They are loyal to their own opinions that they formed by using their critical thinking skills, allowing them to examine a topic from multiple angles.
They will not do things and mindlessly obey orders just because they are told. This also impacts motivation as they will not take someone's word, they need to understand why they need to do something.
Imposing opinion on them is almost impossible, so good luck! While they love looking at different views and perspectives, they will draw their own conclusions based on the collected information. That is their twist:-)
Herd mentality and peer pressure don't do much for them. They have low conformity and are not very likely to do things just because others do them.
Authority doesn't do much for them, either. They don't blindly trust what people say just because they are in certain positions. They will go after the truth, their objective truth.
They don't tend to label or stereotype others because that is intellectually lazy, and they are not.
They prefer the ugly truth to the pretty lies because they need clarity, even if it hurts, compromises, or damages the reputation of others.
They don't care much what other people think about them. They are confident, independent, open-minded, focused, and prioritise the truth, not the feelings of others or social norms.
So cherish these guys because they are telling you something that the mass is blind to. Always pay attention to those who are alone with their views. First of all, they have the balls to do it. Secondly, they probably have good reasons for standing out when standing out is dangerous and against our nature.
If you want to think differently about organisational practices, here are more ideas: