Self Improvement 6: Look at Things from a Different Perspective
Do you want to be more persuasive?
Understand what is behind the other person’s different perspective and you may change their mind (or your own).
Whether you want to make your child eat vegetables or convince the client to sign off on a big purchase, it is important to understand what motivates their actions.
Understanding the motivation behind the decisions of others will give you tools to sway them in your direction. Understanding the different perspective of your opponent will also save you a lot of frustration and even anger.
Be an observer outside of yourself
Detaching yourself from your own view will give you the perspective you do not have when clinging to your own position trying to protect it and convince the other side.
Step out of the situation and see the issue as a neutral bystander.
If you can see the motivation behind the arguments of the other side, you will be better equipped to offer solutions that satisfy their needs. You do not have to agree with their point of view, you may think that their position is wrong or stupid or both, but before you understand you are not able to work out the solution.
Seek to understand
Judging others wrong or stupid means you don’t understand how their reasoning works. Their different perspective usually arises from the set of facts through some kind of reasoning. Understanding that reasoning may help you point out that the facts are wrong or incomplete and the reasoning may be flawed.
Of course, there’s the flip-side, that your facts may be off and your reasoning faulty. Considering the other side may reveal that to you.
Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action. ~~Daniel Goleman
Reflect to your conversation partner
Mirroring is a simple way to understand your opponent better.
In the most basic form you just repeat the gist of what the other person said back to them. Use the same sentence of phrase. Mirroring will help you clarify if you understand what the other person said.
For example, when they say “Trump is the best president we have had” then you can mirror “So, you mean that everything that Trump dose is right?”
Most people do not hold absolute views and your opponent may say something where you can find common ground.
I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do. — Charlie Munger
But there’s even better way of reflecting to your conversation partner. If the situation allows it set some ground rules. The main rule is that when one side says something then the other side has to repeat it back to them. You have to repeat it until the partner agrees that this is what they said. Then you can answer with your own argument.
Different perspective may be right
But you have to be ready to accept that people don’t want their point of view changed. Research shows that we are incredibly skilled at ignoring the facts that contradict our position. It’s called the confirmation bias:
Confirmation bias, also called myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. – Wikipedia
You may be surprised, but there’s no law that says people have to share your opinion. Shocked? I know! Get a grip and try to understand why people act the way they do. Instead of becoming frustrated, irritated, or angry, become a collector of different perspectives. You will expand your mental horizon, be more emphatic and less stressed / hurt / disappointed.
A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open. ― Frank Zappa
Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (10th Anniversary Edition). Everyone knows that high IQ is no guarantee of success, happiness, or virtue, but until Emotional Intelligence, we could only guess why. Daniel Goleman’s brilliant report from the frontiers of psychology and neuroscience offers startling new insight into our “two minds”—the rational and the emotional—and how they together shape our destiny.
Through vivid examples, Goleman delineates the five crucial skills of emotional intelligence and shows how they determine our success in relationships, work, and even our physical well-being. What emerges is an entirely new way to talk about being smart.
The best news is that “emotional literacy” is not fixed early in life. Every parent, every teacher, every business leader, and everyone interested in a more civil society has a stake in this compelling vision of human possibility.
Now go ahead try to understand the point of view of a child not wanting to eat vegetables. Or maybe find out why your friend has a different perspective on skydiving. You don’t have to change their views, sometimes you can just let it go.
Image: Frogs 2 by Andrzej Pobiedziński
Image: Daniel Goleman – Pop!Tech 2009 – Camden, ME by PopTech