A differing view- Of what we see and hear

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Have you ever had an ah-ha moment because of something that just happens to you?

As I sat at my desk preparing for a Skype call with a colleague from across the globe,  I watched the sun rise as it kissed and glistened the morning dew.  While sitting in front of a pair of windows, I noticed the one on my right had taken on cloudiness in the glass, and the window on the left is perfectly clear. And yes, the azaleas are still blooming, and the mock cherry is starting to light up!

Since I sit right in the middle, and with a slight turn of my head I could go from a crispy clear view to a not so clear view. 

As the phone rang, a multitude of thoughts were racing through  my head, including several  quotes, “if you change the way you look at things the things you look at change!” – Wayne Dyer.

“Good leadership requires the ability to imagine life through another’s eyes”- Seth Godin.

And then I checked on a definition of Empathy- Being able to appreciate and experience emotion from another person’s perspective.”

This led me to think about the many ways we view the world, and how often we have differing interpretations or views of the same idea or situation, whether it be a problem, an opportunity or a solution.  We tend to view the world and our impact through our own lenses.  I wondered how much we could benefit and learn from other perspectives  and how my   friend was seeing the world today.  

So, I asked…., and here is a small portion of our conversation. 

Although we did not achieve the intended purpose of our call, what we did accomplish by better understanding each other and growing our relationship was much more valuable.   

While this happened by accident, we imagined how many of our  relationships that would  benefit from having more of these types of conversations, intentionally! 

We discussed the critical importance of clarity.  What is crystal  clear to one person may not be so clear to the next person.  And within that difference, with its presence or absence, therein lies the opportunity for conflict, creativity, and growth.  And among other things, also the breakdown or building of Trust!

What is the difference between those two outcomes?

If we can so easily  become  vulnerable to see things differently, how often do we  understand the things we hear differently from intended?   Or how often do  two or more of us  hear   the same things, and walk away with a different understanding of what was said?

How often do we take the time to look at things through the other person’s lenses, and make a sincere effort to try and understand what, why or how they see things? 

Empathy is a leadership competency.  Practice putting yourself in the other persons shoes, see it and hear it from where they stand, and see if you can find a common ground to build on.

Discovering clarity on our different perspectives increases our understanding, capacity and ability to find the best solutions and outcomes for whatever we are trying to do.

If you think that is important, how might we make achieving clarity a shared responsibility?

Please join our conversation, we welcome your perspective. Where do you stand on this?


Posted by John Watson on: February 10, 2019 09:43 PM | Permalink

Comments (17)

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Thank you John for sharing this. Having Empathy is one of most important leadership trait that one can have and this is what helps us to see things from different and come up with solutions for best outcomes. Its sad to see we have less leaders and more managers who are only interested to push their own agenda. I agree that we all should be taking more time to look at the things from other's person's lens.

good sahring

Thanks Sharing, Your right we should look things from other person perspective.

Great way to put it John. Empathy is a very important soft skill.

Considering the complexity of the project from team to requirements, Empathy is one of the important trait we should develope for successful delivery of Project.

Thanks for sharing for sharing very nice perspectives.

Empathy is a critical ingredient of the success porridge of the project. It is this trait that gives us edge over others and with an intent to make project and relationship a success. According to me, this ingredient is quite in shortage for the most part. In an effort to push our goals, we often take a directive stance instead of hearing the other person out. This may make the project a success but we lose on relationship that is so critical.

Empathy has to be practiced with diligence. Thank you for starting this important conversation.

Excellent post, John!
The importance of empathy was one of the best lessons my dad taught me.
Empathy is indeed one of the most important leadership skills!
However, what happens if we are empathetic, but the people on the other side stubbornly refuse to see our point of view.
My dad gave me a terrific tip for such situations too.
To those mulishly sticking to their viewpoints, ask the question, "I can see where you are coming from. Imagine for a few minutes that YOU are in my position. What will you do? What decisions are actions will you take!"
I've used this technique numerous times, almost always with terrific results!

Empathy can go so long! Thank you for sharing this interesting viewpoint!

Thank for this, John.
Empathy is a critical attribute of leaders and project managers are among them. It is the ability to better understand others' view and perspectives demonstrating respect in our daily relationships. It may be useful to understand the various types of empathy, from including the cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and somatic empathy: cognitive empathy (the capacity to understand another's perspective or mental state); emotional empathy (also called affective empathy, the capacity to respond to another's mental states appropriately); and, the somatic empathy is a physical reaction.

Thank you, John, for sharing this valuable perspective.

Thank you John, It is such a pleasure to read and invision looking out of your house.
Looking through different lens is an important concept. Remember the adage of looking through rose colored glasses? That certainly can change the perspective.

One of my personal favorite discussions on this topic is found in Harry Wolcott's writing on a qualitative research using enthnography. His focus is 'a way of seeing' through the lens of culture.

Not only can we look at things from another's perspective, but we can look at it from a lens of culture. This is even broader than an individual perspective.

Here's another related blog that I've looked at a few different times. Change the Lens!!!

John, good article it sure if be adopted by most people they will have more tolerance for accepting other views so own opinion and the opposite opinion. another good example if you write number 6 on your palm you would read it 6 but I will see it 9.
Thanks for sharing.

Thank you for your comment and your insightful perspective!

Thanks Johan for sharing your thoughts, it’s wonderful article

Great topic, John, thank you for sharing your toughs. Involved in our busy business lives, we tend to forget how important it is to realize that we see the world by the lenses of our own experiences, our value systems, our own drivers. We tend to judge others based on how we think, forgetting that they might think differently. And sometimes we even condemn those who do not share the same opinions, as understanding those needs effort, time and reflection. Your article remind us about how important it is to be willing to admit that there are different perspectives and it is worth thinking about them. They may enrich our understanding about us and the context we are living in.

Thank you for sharing John and for everyone for this enriching conversation.
The beauty of humanity is as much as we are alike, as much as we celebrate our differences and our uniqueness - that makes us who we are. Our different backgrounds, experiences, learnings and wisdom makes us interpret the same behaviours, the same words differently. Some of us would take offense to something that would be highly valued and celebrated by others. This can happen even within the same family, let alone cultures and backgrounds. Having said that, as we step outside our bodies to look at any matter from the other person's perspective, let's be careful not to "box" the others and try our best to understand them.

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