Are you looking at situations from the other person’s perspective before you judge them?

I want to talk to you about the power in being able to look at a situation from another person’s perspective. It’s not always easy, especially when there are feelings involved, but I can tell you from personal experience that being able to shift your perspective can help you avoid a significant number of conflicts in both your personal life and in your business.

The realization of how powerful this skill is came to me a few nights ago. You see, I had taken the day off to spend it with my son since his daycare was closed. This also happened to be the day that our daughters have gymnastics. Since I had been home all day with our son, I had hoped to be able to take the girls to their practice so that I could get out of the house. My wife, however, wanted to take the girls. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great day at home hanging out with Henry, our son, but I was ready for a break.

Now, for anyone reading this who has kids who do any kind of sports or extracurricular activities you know that practice nights can be pretty hectic. And this night wasn’t any different. When my wife got home, they were in a rush. This evening, in particular, they were in a real time crunch. I wasn’t looking forward to them getting home, because I knew they had about 10 minutes to eat and change before they had to run right back out the door to get to their class on time.

So, in the rush to get everyone fed and ready and out the door, there was no real “Hi,” or, “How was your day?” Or anything like that. And to be completely honest, I found myself getting kind of upset. Even a little bit distant. But, once the whirlwind had passed and she left with the girls, I had a chance to sit down and work my way through how I was feeling and why.

I was also able to shift my view of the situation, detach my emotions from it, and look at it from her perspective. Doing this helped me to see that she wasn’t being intentionally spiteful or withholding herself on purpose to hurt me or make me angry. I realized that it wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate me taking the day off, or having dinner ready to go, she truly was just in a huge rush to get everyone fed, changed and in the car so they could be on time for gymnastics.

However, if I hadn’t been able to slow down and shift the view to her perspective, the entire situation could have escalated into a genuine argument, that could have not only ruined the rest of the evening but even the next few days. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been in a place where something small becomes something big because you are only able to see from your perspective, and the story in your head makes it out to be something much more than it is.

This ability to shift perspectives and see where the other person is coming from works in business, too. Being able to look at a situation with a client, especially if they are unhappy or having an issue with the service they’ve received, and understand it from their perspective can help you to serve your clients better. In fact, being able to see the situation or issue from their side keeps you from getting defensive and potentially losing business. It can help you to slow down and really hear what they are telling you, without the situation turning into a major issue for your business.

If we, as business owners can take on the perspective of our clients and really listen to what they’re telling us, and look at the situation from their side it will help us to be a better businessperson. Better yet, if you can shift that perspective ahead of time and anticipate how different situations might affect your clients you could potentially head off any issues before they arise.

This ability to shift into another person’s perspective can be applied to literally any situation involving another person. Whether it’s in your personal relationships, your business relationships, or even as a customer yourself, developing this perspective can help you become a more understanding person, and that not only makes it easier for other people to communicate and work with you, but it will actually reduce your own stress, and make you a better and kinder person overall.

Now, I’m not saying that you should use this perspective shift to allow other people to take advantage of you. You can still stand your ground and have boundaries, even while viewing situations through another perspective, but it does help open your eyes and create an understanding of what the other person may be dealing with inside their own lives.

So, before you get angry or decide to make something small into something big, try turning the situation around in your head. Ask yourself, how would I feel if… and then be honest with yourself. Remember, there are two sides to every story, and being able to step into another person’s shoes is a skill that can help you to avoid a lot of difficulties, misunderstandings, arguments, and even heartache in your life.


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Photo by Fares Hamouche on Unsplash