What do you do when you and a co-worker don’t see eye to eye? I recently experienced this and could not imagine how my co-worker got to ‘that’ conclusion. I disagreed with his reaction and the decision he made as a result. It was almost like walls went up between us immediately because we saw things differently. I walked away frustrated and honestly a little irritated. I decided to go back and have a followup conversation to get a fresh perspective. Perspective helps us see the world in a different way. When I went back to my co-worker for a follow up meeting, I practiced three new skills in our conversation and found that I came to an entirely different conclusion.
First, when I find myself in conversations that challenge the way I see things, it requires that I stay present. For example, in the second meeting with my co-worker, I had to ask myself, “Am I giving him all my attention and being fully present?” That meant I needed to suspend judgement and more specifically, it meant I needed to listen without trying to think of whether I agreed or disagreed while he was talking.
Secondly, gaining perspective is only possible if I look for the arial view of their perspective. What I mean by this is understanding the broader context of the situation. The Oxford Dictionary describes context as ‘the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed’. This is something I want to keep seeking out in my discussions – these ‘circumstances that form the setting’. With my co-worker, I tested whether I had the details necessary to formulate my opinion and my noble certainties. More specifically, seeking out the context required that I seek out information to fill in what might have happened before this, during this, and after this discussion. I did this by asking questions.
Lastly, I find it vital to be willing to put myself in the other person’s shoes. I am reminded to ask myself, “Why would a reasonable, decent, and rational person believe this?’. This serves me well when a reaction is starting to build inside me and I am coming to my own rapid conclusions. I put myself in my co-worker’s shoes by asking three questions: “What would I be feeling in that situation?”; “What would I be thinking in that situation?”; and “What would I be processing given that situation?”.
When I applied these three skills with my co-worker, I was able to re-process the entire event. I found that I came to an entirely different conclusion. Taking that time to give new energy to the entire discussion allowed me to put myself in his shoes and reinterpret what I thought were his feelings and possible thoughts as he was experiencing the event. During our conversation, I continued to ponder what I might have chosen as a result of all these insights. This led me to a completely different conclusion where I was able to let go of the outcome – which was truly HIS outcome, after all. I hope, at this time next year, to have my very own recap on relational perspective given the tools I am learning now on gaining perspective.
Author – Michelle Santaferraro
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