It’s All a Matter of Perspective

Consider this all-too-familiar scenario: You’re driving to work behind an SUV that abruptly stops before an intersection. No turn signal, no warning. Just stops in the middle of the street. How inconsiderate! You could have wrecked! So you lay on the horn, angry and flustered, yelling a few choice words.

But what you couldn’t see was the smaller car ahead of the SUV. That car was the one actually turning. And it DID have the turn signal on. The SUV was simply waiting for the car to turn. Now, how do you feel? Glad you honked and yelled for no reason? Or embarrassed that you acted without having all of the information?

Scenarios like this one happen every single day. But not just while driving. It happens in our relationships with our spouses, with our family members, our friends. And whether we like it or not, it happens in the workplace more than it should.

A manager notices that one of his team members showed up late. Instead of asking why or what happened, the manager just immediately jumps to scold the employee. What he didn’t know is that this employee’s mother is ill, and he’s late because he had to care for her, and he already planned to skip his lunch to make up for the lost time.

Or flip the situation…

Employees are grumbling because their manager has been coming in every morning and going straight to his office. He used to stop and check in with the team, ask questions, and pitch in if they needed something. His team is fed up and they have come to the conclusion that he is just acting superior. They don’t know that his boss has asked him to pick up the slack on some different projects. So he’s stressed, and going into his office to maximize how he’s spending his time.

How can scenarios like these be avoided? We have to start by changing our perspective. By believing in positive intent. And by simply communicating.

It’s hard to break the habit. But for the sake of our relationships, we have to see all sides of the coin. We have to look at things from different perspectives. Just because the lens through which we view the world justifies our own feelings, it doesn’t mean it’s always right.

Here are a few tips to help break the cycle:

  • Understand: Start by understanding that people are human, just like you. They do things for their own reasons. And sometimes they make mistakes. But they don’t wake up with the goal to make your life more difficult.
  • Believe: Believe in the intent of others, whether you like the person or not. Believe that they intend to do the right thing. Believe that they want to succeed.
  • Communicate: When you find yourself in one of these scenarios, have a conversation. Before jumping to judgment, find out whether or not your feelings are justified. It could save you from unwanted drama.
  • Inspire: Inspire those around you. Everything we do, right or wrong, could have an impact on someone else. Model the behaviors you want to see. Sometimes when we change ourselves, we start to see a change in others.

There are so many situations today that could be avoided if people would just communicate and believe in one another. If people would just see things from more than one perspective. So start with you. You never know what impact it could have…

How do your communication skills measure up? Click here to find out.

What can a different perspective teach you? Watch this.