By: Steffan Surdek
In our daily lives, we often confuse our personal perspective with reality. In these moments our belief is that our perspective is reality but is that always the case?
What could be different in your life if you could see all perspectives hold some truth?
Think for a moment about the last time you had a big argument with your spouse. What was your mindset? Were you right and your spouse was wrong? Was it that cut and dry?
The distinction between perspective and reality
There are a lot of fun expressions around this topic. The easiest one is "my perspective is my reality" but is this really true or is there a difference between the two?
Perspectives are the way we see the world as individuals. It is your personal point of view and among other things, it comes from different things such as:
- Your life experiences and values
- Your current state of mind
- Assumptions and baggage you bring into a situation
Reality is different because we share a form of it with other people. Did you ever notice how the more perspectives we get on a situation, the closer we get to reality?
What is perspective taking?
Instead of explaining it, let's do something different. Go back to that last argument with your spouse for a moment. Take a moment to try to see their point of view in that argument.
For fun, try to answer these questions:
- What was your spouse trying to tell you?
- How could any of it be true from their point of view?
These two basic questions are at the root of perspective taking. When you think your perspective is reality, you will often forget these questions. In relationships, this can create unhealthy conversations that look like this:
- You and your spouse are listening to argue instead of listening to understand.
- Neither you or your spouse feels heard by the other
- Internal frustrations grow for both of you and a lot of things remain unsaid
How can this help your relationship?
Here are some tips to help change the conversations in your relationship:
- Learn to accept that what you and your spouse are saying are your personal points of view. You can both be right and both be wrong but it's not about that. It's about listening to each other and working through it.
- Be curious about the point of view of your spouse and try to see the world through their eyes. Ask clarifying questions if you need to.
- Answer your spouse in a way that lets them see and feel that you can see their point of view in the discussion.
- Identify the differences in your point of views and name them in the conversation. This may provide your spouse with the information they need to better listen to you.
- Do not judge or dismiss the perspectives of your spouse. Remember that although you may not think you are doing this your spouse may still feel that way.
Having conversations is hard because we are all human with different needs. You may also be wary of conflict and sometimes it may feel like it is easier to avoid them altogether.
Mastering the art of perspective taking will make your conversations easier. The beauty of this is that you can see results with your spouse with one person actively doing it. Do not try to change your spouse, change how you have the discussion instead and see what happens.
How will you apply more perspective taking in your life? How different could your relationship be if you learned this new skill?
is an in-demand leadership development coach and corporate trainer
. He has always been driven to expand the notion of leadership to include each member of the team. As a widely recognized principal consultant, Steffan's work has a strong business impact, helping reshape business cultures and guiding them in becoming more collaborative and efficient. He is the founder of Pyxis Cultures
, a consulting and training company based in Montreal, Canada. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.