Learn how to improve your ability to see things from different perspectives!
I was recently sharing with some of my students my thoughts around the “cancel culture” hype that has seemed to overtake society in the past few years. We are in this strange place where for some reason, many people feel it is necessary to “cancel” people who they don’t agree with and this could be for many different reasons like politics, race, religion, and more.
Now, there are many contributing factors that take place here, and sometimes they might be justified, but I believe in many instances people are not taking the time to see things from the other side’s viewpoint and this creates almost extreme polarization between the many sides of a story. So that’s what I am going to do here. I will share with you why being able to see situations from someone else’s perspective is important and I will also give you the steps you can take to develop your skills to see things from another point of view.
Let’s start by discussing what PERSPECTIVE is in the first place. It is a particular way of viewing something that takes into account things like your values, biases, past experiences and more. Another way I could word it is it is how you see something.
So, we are always using these things to guide and shape our worldview, but why is that important and why is it something you would want to improve?
Well there are many areas of our lives that benefit from being able to see multiple perspectives. We can increase the quality of our relationships when we better understand other peoples feelings, or we can improve our businesses when we take time to think about customer experiences, and there are many other examples.
I also believe that the world would look like a totally different place if people were able to have respectful conversations with others and I believe one of the ways we improve on this is by seeing things from other people’s perspectives.
I often think of the friends I had in high school and how I’m really grateful for those memories. We had a large friend group with many different interests, ideas, and beliefs and we didn’t let that hold us back from enjoying our time together. I have great memories of us sitting around the kitchen island, or camping under the stars, talking about current issues in the world, our own interests, and even religion, but we always ended those conversations in a great place regardless of the fact that we might have had different opinions and I want to make sure that all of you reading this article has the same experience.
The point is being able to see things from another point of view is a valuable skill to have, so how can you improve it?
Here are three exercises you can practice regularly to develop and increase your ability to see things from other perspectives:
Number 1 – Think of a situation you found yourself in where your perspective was not considered or misunderstood. It could have been at school, home, or work and think about how you felt. Think about what you wished the other person could understand about you. Think about what the outcome of that situation was and how you wanted it to be different. Now reverse those roles. Understand that you and I both could and most likely will find ourselves in situations where we do not consider, or misunderstand, perspectives other than ours. By doing so and honouring these moments, we become conscious of this reality and can work to mitigate them in the future.
Number 2 – Talk with others and ask them to share their point of view about situations regularly. One of the best ways to think like someone else is to listen to how they think. It isn’t rocket science here, so why would you guess what someone is thinking when they can tell you what they’re thinking? We can learn whether someone is logical, emotional, uptight or careless. Sometimes this can be done casually and in a safe way, but you might also find yourself in a more hostile situation where you need to resolve a lot of conflict. Making your intentions and purpose clear during these times will go a long way and make success much more likely.
Number 3 – Taking time to consider someone else’s perspective and putting yourself in their shoes and you can do this anytime. Thinking about why someone reacted a certain way, what the situation looked like from their point of view, how their past experiences shaped their reaction are a few things you can do to make this happen. You can do this in real life scenarios, or a lot of people will watch a movie or TV show and pause it randomly to consider what the characters are thinking in that moment. This is a great way to practice developing this skill in a controlled situation.
So being able to see things from another person’s point of view is an important quality to have. Can you think of any other reasons why, or what other exercises could someone do to improve this skill? Let me know below!
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