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A Perspective on Perspective

Have you found yourself in a situation in which you were reminded, “There are two sides to every story”? I have – lots of times. Why does it happen so often? Well, let me offer a perspective on perspective.

Perspective image

Who hasn’t seen these images? They are classic psychological images that prove to us that some of us see the very same thing differently than others. Some will see one line longer than the other, yet they are both the same length. Some will see two faces facing each other, while others will see the candlestick.

I’m no psychologist, but we can probably all agree that we often see things differently. Generally, we see things with a mix of emotional and rational thinking. Our emotional thinking comes from our core beliefs which were generated with how we were raised and other various influences over the course of our lives. Our rational mind tries to run on facts and facts alone. Because we all have different upbringings, experience and education that impacted each of our emotional and rational minds differently, we all think slightly (ok, sometimes more than slightly!) different. Makes sense, right?

So, how does all of that work at work? Think of the last time you disagreed with someone. Let’s try to keep politics and sports out of this – the rational mind hardly ever gets to participate in those discussions! Instead, think of a time when you disagreed with a co-worker. You just knew you were right. No way possible that you were wrong. The co-worker, while smart enough normally, just didn’t get this one right. Because of your certainty, it is unlikely that you ever stopped to think that she/he might be right? Or even that she/he might just look at the issue completely differently than you? Or that there are multiple good solutions to the issue? Because there are!

If you can set aside your final decision for just a moment and see the situation how your co-worker may have seen it, you may just see that there is another way to look at the situation. As we have learned since we were youngsters, no two people are alike. For this reason, people have always looked at things slightly differently. There are, therefore, ALWAYS two sides to a story. Seeing different perspectives will enable you to be more empathetic and understanding, will help to solve LOTS of problems more quickly and create a much less stressful work environment for you and your co-worker.