There is an interesting trend in our world that is being played out in a number of areas of our lives. We have developed a seemingly insatiable need to have different viewpoints of the same situation. We have come to the realization that there is advantage is having a variety of points of view of the same situation.
For example, over the last 10+ years we have seen an explosion of the number of camera angles and well positioned coaches throughout a stadium to gain a certain vantage point of the field of play. As coaches and fans, we understand the more points of view we have, the more effective we can be in determining the right decision by a referee or the right play to call. Multiple vantage points help us to be a more effective on the field of play.
We see a similar trend in business today.
- Customers: Enormous planning, effort, and expense is allocated towards trying to understand the different viewpoints of customers. We generate enormous amounts of data as we electronically monitor behaviors and seek out attitudes at different points in the customer experience. There is incredible advantage in building a brand or growing a business when we better understand the different viewpoints.
- Employees: Leaders of business see significant value in gaining different points of view of employees. Understanding what a team is seeing in the warehouse, compared to a sales team, compared to customer service is extremely beneficial to leaders running a business. These various points of view are the life-blood of building a sustainable and successful business.
We could go on and on about this same trend seen across the wide spectrum of life from the tactics of modern warfare to the advances in education. Gaining different viewpoints enables us to develop a better understanding and a more effective plan to accomplish our objectives.
The irony found in this insatiable trend to gain greater understanding in areas such as business, athletics, modern warfare, and education, is that on a more personal social level, the results would show that we are still reluctant to do the hard work of understanding different viewpoints of those closest to us in our homes and in our community.
As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, making the effort and commitment to see the viewpoint of others, especially those closest to us, will help our relationships and raise the bar on our impact.
Social observers, licensed psychologists, and religious leaders would say that on our day to day personal interactions, the vast majority of our energy is spent communicating our point of view with little effort spent on understanding the point of view of others.
An important aspect in our personal growth and development is when we expend greater effort trying to gain the perspective and understanding of others as opposed to getting them to understand us. Relationships are strengthened when we genuinely understand the different viewpoints of others.
Here are just a few practical steps to help in seeing things from the viewpoint of others:
- Our first step in an apparent disagreement should be to gain understanding, not in firming up our defenses.
- Focus on listening by removing the egotistical expectation of delivering a “brilliant” response.
- Genuinely try to walk in the other person’s experience and empathize with their point of view.
- Begin to communicate our point of view only when we gain a sense that the other person acknowledges our effort to understand them.
Those same social observers, licensed psychologists, and religious leaders would say that their collective experience in studying relationships would prove that most disagreements and conflicts on a personal level are due to misunderstanding and a lack of empathy. Both of which are choices we can make to be more effective in building stronger, healthier relationships.
As we translate the trends we see in sports and business to our own life by working hard to gather the different viewpoints of those around us, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to have a greater impact on the people in our homes and our community.