Understanding Perspectives

We’ve all seen the image. At first glance, by looking at it head-on, you see an old woman. Maybe you blink or look away and on second glance, you see a young beautiful woman looking away. Perhaps you only saw the old woman or you only saw the young woman. The picture stayed inherently the same either way. You just changed your perspective. I was reminded of this image today and what it really means.

How often do we encounter a different perspective? I have to be honest, until the last few years I didn’t always accept that others saw things differently than I, and we both could be “correct”. Sure, I knew they had different opinions on the same subject or same situation, but I assumed that someone was right and someone was wrong. Ok, I didn’t always believe myself to be right, but I felt the situations were black and white.

Around the same time I believed in polarized perspectives, I became more aware and educated on Group Facilitation basics. In this training, I changed my perspective from that of a participant to that of a leader within a group. I learned the skills to deal with many different types of participants: from the people that bring in baggage to a session to those that are over eager to share and talk and talk and talk and talk over everyone else. I learned skills to deal with these participants and change their perspective on what they are bringing to the session. I developed empathy for what participants were bringing to a session, be it their bad coffee or bad week. I learned that inherently, teams want to do good work and people want to do the right thing. But often they are blocked from being able to do just that. Good facilitators see that there may be something going on behind a participant’s discussion, involvement, or lack thereof. They are trained to watch and see the signs and change the perspective of the participant and those affected by their attitudes so that they can be a productive member of the group and the session. One great way to do this is to interrupt the pattern of disruption so participants can refocus on the purpose and goal of the meeting. To put it another way, change their perspective.

There’s a technique that I have learned through my Facilitation education and it is an exercise that I had learned from Gary Rush in his FoCuSeD (TM) Facilitator Guide produced by MGR Consulting. It’s called “If I were you.” It’s a structured way to have a discussion to understand by putting myself in your shoes, what your goals are. By understanding each person’s goals and that they don’t have to be in conflict with each other in the group, you can understand how what you are doing or not doing is impacting another person’s goals. That person will always stay true to their goals and use those as their sole focus and priority. So how can you, by understanding another’s goals, find common ground where goals may intersect? Or, at the very least, develop empathy and understanding. I guarantee by changing your perspective you will have more meaningful interactions and handle conflict and negotiation much easier.

What are some tips you have to change your perspective?

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