Daily Nugget of Gold 795
The Other Person’s Perspective
When we have a difference of opinion on something with another person, what do we usually think to ourselves? There is this temptation to think that the other person is wrong or misguided in the conclusions they’ve come to and if that is our thinking then it’s possible we are going to miss an opportunity to grow and better relate to that person. That would be unfortunate because most of us would freely admit we’ve been wrong, clearly wrong, on a number of occasions- but if we are so firmly intrenched in our beliefs, and already come to a conclusion on something, we may be dismissing new evidence that we really ought to consider.
Author Dan Chaon said, “A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking.”. What do you think about that quote? Is it possible that we consider only so much on any given topic and when we stop wishing to entertain other perspectives that we draw a conclusion to give ourselves a break from thinking any more on a particular subject? One danger, as it appears to us, is that by coming to a conclusion we’ve ostracized ourselves from a better understanding when new information comes along which challenges our viewpoint, or what we’ve decided our viewpoint should be. While that’s probably not good, there may be something else going on here we want to consider.
If we want to get along with other people, it seems to us that having the ability to fully understand someone else’s point of view would be a powerful way of helping us not only help them, but help ourselves. If we could occupy their brain, if we could have the benefit of seeing things as through their own genetic make-up, and what their experiences have taught them, then we would probably know more about what we needed to do in order to come to an agreement. Of course, we can’t exactly do all of that and they aren’t likely to want us wandering around in their brain even if we could.
What we don’t immediately understand about another person’s perspective is often cast out as an ulterior motive on their part. Often we come to the conclusion that they have decided to keep this motive hidden so as to put one over on us, the world, or even themselves. Could that thought fly in the face of any chance of an amicable agreement based on truth? If we are too quick to conclude something which has as it’s basis a judgment like that, we ourselves are opening the door to conflict.
A better approach might be to do everything thing we can to understand why they think the way they think based not only on what conclusions we draw, but more firmly based on the facts as they see them to be. Wouldn’t a good way to do this closer examination of their view be to ask them about why they think and feel as they do? Admitting we might be wrong right up front should allow us to do this without them feeling threatened. In any case we’ll gain their respect because we really did try to see things they way they see them. We might even come to a better understanding of ourselves in the process.
Question of the Day to Ask Ourselves
“What can I do today to understand other people’s perspectives better?”
Copyright 2012 Kevin Littleton, all rights reserved.