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 points of view 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 we watch any football game at the collegiate or professional level, we quickly realize the enormous amount of points of view to observe the game. In addition, 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, the right play to call to exploit a weakness in the opposition’s defenses, or the best defense to address a consistent trend on an offense. Multiple vantage points helps us to be a more effective on a sports field.
We see a similar trend in business today. Enormous planning, effort, and expense is allocated towards trying to understand different points of view of customers. We generate enormous amounts of data as we electronically monitor behaviors and seek out attitudes at different points in the customer’s experience. There is incredible advantage in building a brand or growing a business when we better understand the different points of view of our customers. In addition, 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 points of view 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 points of view of those closest to us in our homes and in our community.
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 another.
An important aspect in building and strengthening our character 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 points of view of others.
Here are just a few practical steps that I hope you find helpful in seeing things from the point of view of others as we continue to build and strengthen our character:
(1) Our first step in an apparent disagreement should be to gain understanding, not in firming up our defenses.
(2) Focus on listening by removing the egotistical expectation of delivering a “brilliant” response.
(3) Genuinely try to walk in the other person’s experience and empathize with their point of view.
(4) 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 points of view 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 home and our community.