Understand how people see their world

Each one of us walks through this world with their our own perception of events unfolding. This needs to be understood and embraced whenever we look to fostering meaningful relationships, standing our ground and building a career that actually matters to us.

I vividly remember a situation at work a few years ago where I was running a meeting with a number of key project stakeholders. During the meeting a colleague interrupted me while I was summarising a key challenge we were currently facing. Clearly agitated he asked me why we had decided to go ahead with a proposed solution without consulting him prior. It appeared that I had triggered something within him as his voice was trembling slightly and his face was heating up while I was trying to explain the reason to him.


To me it had seemed obvious why we were going to go ahead with the solution - it was the rationale and logical step to take. At least that was my perspective of the situation.

Some people in the room agreed with my proposal, others stayed quiet on the matter. But for my upset colleague there was clearly no way I could proceed with the planned design. As he laid out the reasons for his thinking it became more and more apparent that I had not fully considered his perspective of the matter at hand. My idea would have taken a strain on his team and resource availability while the perceived benefit for him was minimal.

What this example illustrates quite nicely is that even when I thought that my solution made perfect sense and was the best thing to do, others saw it through an entirely different lens.

Their perception of the situation was entirely different to mine, hence why they had their emotional outburst in that meeting room. While I was focused on getting the project delivered to the best possible standard he was trying to protect his people from the additional burden the additional work was going to take.

Same situation, two separate ways of looking at it.

This happens all the time and not only in the work environment. We all are the result of past experiences that shape how we see the world. Things that would trigger me leave others cold as they have no emotional connection to them.

This is where the power of looking at challenges objectively comes into play. If we appreciate that we all have our subjective lens applied to an objective situation then we can cater towards that.

First, we have to remove our own subjective view of any situation. That is easier said than done. We are constantly creating stories about events unfolding around us. We react to them before we even get a chance to pause and look at them from a neutral standpoint.

If we however manage to take our own stories out of the equation it creates a space where we can invite others in to join us. We can start seeing where they are coming from - their subjective perception of the situation.

By putting ourselves into the shoes of others we can cater towards their needs and expectations, their concerns and fears they may be experiencing.

What becomes possible when we manage to zoom out of any given challenge for a moment to look at it objectively?

We become less driven by emotion and thought.

We become easier to deal and work with.

We are trusted by others as we can fully understand their perspectives and cater towards them.

And, most importantly, we just become a better person to have around.

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