Acknowledging Other Perspectives


A different perspective created a more interesting picture. 

Teaching middle school students provides you many, many interesting situations. The variety of comments my classes came up with never ceased to amaze me. Silly, snarky, insightful, naive; words and sentences blurted out with few filters. Our Social Studies conversations could be rich or veer off course in a second.

Often, their comment was on track, but totally different than what I anticipated. A different life perspective created thoughts different than my own. I stopped, paused, thought, and agreed yes, that was another way to look at the situation.

Similar situations happen all the time in our lives yet how often do we stop and take the time to acknowledge another's perspective?

I’ve noticed I don’t always do this with other people in my life. I hear their thoughts and ideas, but I usually dismiss them because I have my own thoughts and ideas. This can happen at home, work, or when with a group of family.

At issue here isn’t necessarily who is right, but the act of validating their thoughts and opinions. We value our own because they fit our perspective on the situation.

Googling “perspective” provides the definition of: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

Many different factors shape your perspective, not limited to your upbringing, you current family life, your job, where you live, your culture and your education.

Additionally, perspectives changes over time. Young adults are not too interested in learning about babies until they have one of their own. Teenagers think their parents don’t know anything until they themselves get older. Different experiences alter our point of view.

When you converse with someone else, you listen with your own perspective. Parts of the conversation you filter out and others you hone in on. Are you highly passionate about a subject, or not interested at all? Both perspectives influence your response, and both make it hard to acknowledge another’s point of view.

How you feel physically and mentally alters your perspective. Exhausted from work or rushed to make dinner affects how we respond to others. Our perspective aids or hinders our understanding of a situation. When you learn something new, your first response is to draw upon your background knowledge and perspective of that topic.

Objectivity gets mired in our perspective, further hindering open-mindedness. It is hard to accept another’s thoughts as valid when we have a bias towards the topic.

So who cares?

Improved communication begins with acknowledging other’s perspectives. Again, you don’t have to agree they are right, but the simple act of validating what they say goes a long way in establishing positive relationships. Think about the last time you disagreed with someone over something. What if you instead said, “I see your point, let me think about it.”

Accepting another perspective allows us to learn from others. We broaden our perspective and enrich our life by doing this. The whole Simple Life and Minimalist concepts are definitely different perspectives. The more I read about this way of life, the more I learn and the more accepting I am; so much so, I also want to live this way.

Finally, maybe we can achieve a little more peace in our world if we accept people who have a different perspective than we do. No one, not even your closest friend or family member, will ever have the exact same set of perspectives as you do. Instead of discounting their statement, say “I see your point, let me think about it” or “Interesting, I hadn’t thought about it that way.”

Acknowledging their perspective will take a lot of practice, but I am curious to see how it can improve my relationships with others.

Comments

  1. Hi Lisa!

    I absolutely love what you have written. Listening to others and acknowledging their perspective certainly can lead to some retrospective thought about how to view a situation differently. Do you think it can be a little related to judgement? Sometimes I know I am guilty of judging before I listen or hear a perspective. I am certainly always so fearful of judgement because I voice my perspective on life so openly these days...

    Fingers crossed this comment posts!

    Fran

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    1. Hi Fran!

      Yay, it worked this time :) I agree, judgement can play a role in how we respond especially if we have a preconceived bias towards the person or situation. I'm always worried about being judged on the blog comments I write, or twitter posts. We have a rule at work: Assume good intent. I think that would help in a lot of situations.

      Lisa

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  2. Listening definitely needs more patience and skills than speaking because we are all trained creature to speak and argue what we think is right.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Ivana! Listening is huge! I was actually going to write a whole blog post on how we need to be better listeners and not always worry about what we are going to say/argue.

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  3. Thanks Lisa.

    Will definitely look out for your next post on it.

    Oh btw, noticed that you are from Wisconsin. What a coincidence, i used to study for my undergrad days back at wisconsin madison ;)

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