Our world has changed immensely over the last 5 years and the social landscape has been impacted intensely by these changes. Between politics, beliefs, inclusion, diversity, and economic opinions, it is safe to say that our perspectives have become limited and are easily drowned out by the volume of everything that is constantly going on around us. Remembering the words of our wise parents and teachers encouraging us to “put ourselves in the other persons’ shoes,” can get lost when we are feeling emotional and strong about an opinion or cause. In some cases, kindness and understanding are completely thrown out the window in an effort to be heard or be strong. Not only has this affected the world we are living in, but it can also creep into our day-to-day lives and affect us in the workplace. The value and utility of imploring multiple perspectives in your workplace and career are substantial and important.
Listen and Ask Questions
One of the most constructive ways to begin to understand and view another perspective may sound simple but can be difficult for some. You have in your mind the way you want to do things or knowledge of how things should be done, but your peer is challenging your ideas and your processes. Instead of immediately shutting them down, really take the time to sit down and listen to their ideas and views. Using a growth mindset, take in what they are telling you and when you are done listening, ask questions, and then listen again to their answers. Sounds so simple, right?
The problem lies in the fact that we can create stubborn preconceived notions and we do not allow ourselves to really think about doing things differently. By going into the meeting with an open mind and the willingness to shift your thinking, different solutions can surface, improving collaboration and productivity. If you find that after really listening, the solution still resides with your method or idea, conveying that in a manner that makes the person feel heard, can result in little conflict and more understanding. By giving examples and feedback to your peer while showing understanding of their thinking, you will instill respect and trust. We all want to be heard and we all have innovative ideas and thoughts. When you view a situation from the chair of the person sitting across from you, whether you continue to agree or not, you can honestly say that all options were explored and heard.
Feedback vs Perspective
Sometimes the idea of feedback and perspective can be interchangeable within our minds. This is a habit that needs to be broken. Feedback and perspective are different and need to be understood in the correct context. When receiving feedback, positive or negative, it is often left there as it is. Sometimes we take it into account, other times we leave it and forget it. Perspective, on the other hand, is a different way of looking at something. A good way to combat this is instead of providing feedback (notes, words, criticism, or even words of encouragement) try, instead, to provide a different perspective to your subordinate, peer, or boss. Here are some ways to do this:
Feedback: “That presentation was great.”
Perspective: “The client really saw the value of doing it this way because they care about that aspect of their business.”
Feedback: “That report was too verbose, you included too much information and the intent was lost, next time stick to the bullet points.”
Perspective: “There was a lot of information in that report and it may have been lost among the reader. Do you think it was easy for them to identify the intent? Next time you construct that, think about the experience the reader has when taking in the information.”
Making Progress with Perspective
Embracing a new perspective is an incredibly valuable problem-solving tool. Because our knowledge is often drawn from our direct experiences, listening to another person’s experiences can be eye-opening, mind-opening, and solution-inducing. When facing a problem head-on within the workplace, teams are often put into a war-room-like setting and tasked to brainstorm and initiate solutions. The intent behind this method is great, but without listening and examining all sides of the situation, sometimes our solutions can turn out to be just band-aids to a worsening problem. When you consider all parties that are affected by the problem, finding a solution that works for all, is more likely. To do this, we often need to put ourselves in the shoes of all that are impacted and involved, gaining perspective and therefore, understanding of the problem. One solution may greatly benefit your department, but cause headaches in another. By thinking this way, long-term solutions are born and implemented and contribute to the success of everyone.
A Distaste for Different Perspectives
Throughout your life and career, you will inevitably come across individuals who refuse to take others’ experiences into account or have no interest in putting themselves in the other persons’ shoes. This can be challenging and downright frustrating. When these encounters happen, using facts, knowledge, and kindness can be helpful tools in getting your point across. Consider these situations to be a time for you to lead by example. Show your ability to “try on” a different way of looking at something and exemplify the benefits of doing so. You may not succeed, but over time, by exhibiting your willingness to look at things from different angles, you may find that others will start doing it too.
At Crosworks, the ability to look at a situation with different perspectives aligns greatly with our brand and our philosophy. Through our career counseling solutions, we are constantly practicing this technique to help individuals and organizations better their situations and find clarity in their careers and functions. Perspectives can dictate what you may want or not want in the future and taking all of that into account furthers your vision and your goals. Contact us today to start a conversation.