5 Tips for Realizing and Coping with Other Perspectives
I was recently reminded of a reality: My perspective and your perspective are not the only perspectives.
This realization was sparked by a moment that I had a few mornings ago. One of the last things I read as I was going to bed the night before caused me to say, “I don’t get where he’s coming from.” And then, my first thought the next morning was, “Wow, I still don’t know where he’s coming from,”.
The “he” in this story is a colleague I have known for years. I hold a great deal of respect for this friend, but on this particular topic I don’t understand. I really don’t understand his perspective, and I truly don’t see where he’s coming from. And that frustrated me on this particular morning.
As I thought about my frustration, I realized that I have been really intentional about perspective over the years. I have been careful in making sure that I seek to understand someone else’s perspective. I go out of my way to see where they’re coming from. My frustration got me thinking that this might be a technique we haven’t all employed in the past, but we really need to right now. Without thinking about someone else’s perspectives, we run the risk of going absolutely sideways. And especially in the uncertain situation we find ourselves in right now, it can get really unpleasant in a hurry.
We’ve just spent the last several days or weeks forming our own opinions, reacting or responding to what’s going on around us, and being inundated with information. A combination of both information and feelings, blended with our own life journey thus far, has led us to believe what we believe right now.
Take working from home, for example. There are some of us who may have always wanted to work from home. On the flip side, there are others that have a hard time staying motivated when they are working in their pajamas, on their couch, or at their kitchen table. Some might be ecstatic to get to see their kids during the workday, but others might only see its challenges.Each one of us has done this. Individually. Which means we’ve each got different perspectives.
What about school cancellations? There are many feeling grateful or relieved for the break, but there are also those who love school and miss being there. Some are fearful of what they are going to miss and what they are going to do about their grades. I can’t help but think about the seniors missing out on so many of their ‘lasts’.
Our daily lives have been impacted profoundly. We have lost a sense of routine. Many have lost their primary source of income. Things are materially different. With that, there comes a multitude of responses. Some folks are relieved to be safe within a fairly stable corporate structure. For some, in some lines of work, they may respond with “Most of my day is still the same,”.
The health factor is heavy on some of our hearts. Some have loved ones at risk or maybe they themselves are compromised and they face fear and worry. There are those who instead of having less things to do, they are overwhelmed because they work in the medical field or one of the other many front-line roles right now.
These are all different perspectives. We must first conclude that there are different perspectives everywhere. You and your neighbor probably have different perspectives. You and your colleagues, customers, vendor partners have different perspectives. You and your family members have different perspectives. But what next? Here are five tips for realizing and coping with the numerous perspectives you may encounter.
- Tip 1 – Own your perspective. Acknowledge what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, and where it came from. Are you angry or are you mildly inconvenienced? Name it! Give voice to your feelings. Don’t presume yours is the only angle, but don’t discredit your emotions because they’re not the same as someone else’s. Take the time to name your perspective. Then look to the sources of your emotions. Are you frustrated by technology? Have you just read something in the news, and now you are fearful? Find a way to state your perspective.
- Tip 2 – Don’t assume. Avoid starting any conversation assuming that the person(s) involved are coming from the same place you are. Take time to remember how varied our perspectives really are about so many things right now. It is incredibly likely that whomever you are talking to does not share your same perspectives.
- Tip 3 – Seek to understand. This phrase has been around for centuries. Instead of telling them where you’re coming from, or – heaven forbid! – telling someone where they’re coming from, try asking. Learn about their journey and their lens by listening. They likely have information they can contribute to your knowledge.
- Tip 4 – Find consensus where it matters. It turns out that collegial relationships do not require 100% agreement on every topic. If two or more of us are involved in a conversation, we won’t agree 100% on 100% of the nuances, but we can work together when we agree on some Agree enough on the topic so that progress can be made.
- Tip 5 – Avoid escalating. What happens if a consensus isn’t reached? Your emotions get higher and higher. In that moment I invite you to take a deep breath, step away, do whatever it takes to get control – and for heavens’ sake don’t put escalated language into writing!
So, there you have it: five tips to realize and cope with the numerous perspectives you may encounter. How will you apply these tips? What would you share?