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Food for Thought #7 – Different perceptions

Eyes
http://www.flickr.com/photos/doug88888/4535174486/

When was the last time you tried to see a situation with the eyes of a different person? Humans tend to think that everybody has the same view of the world as themselves and that everybody has the same perception. Of course, we all know this isn’t true. Everybody has a different perception, and that’s why it is so important to try to see the situation with the eyes of your counterpart. This can be your wife during an argument, your colleague during a meeting or your boss during a salary negotiation. It helps to understand why somebody behaves that way, and to get a common understanding.

Steve was sitting in a train after a hard day of work, when he recognized two kids jumping on the seats and making a lot of noise. A lot of people already started to turn their heads, and some were quite annoyed. The father of the kids was sitting beside them doing nothing. He was just sitting there, apparently unimpressed by their behavior. After another couple of minutes of this dog and pony show, he stood up and walked straight to the man. He was really upset that the father of the kids didn’t do anything about their behavior. He asked him: “Could you please ask your kids to stop jumping on the seats and be more quite?”. “No, I won’t”, the father said, “their mother died today, and that’s their way to cope with the loss….”.

I know this is a harsh example, but it shows that there are always different perceptions of a dedicated behavior. For Steve, the kids were just ill-bred. Now, that he knew what happened to the kids, he was able to see the situation from a different angle. He was able to understand why their father behaved like this.

Now go back and think about different situations at work. Is Mike really lazy, because he is always leaving at 5pm? Or is it because he travels about one hour from and to work, and wants to have the time to bring his kids to bed? Why did Sally dis you at the last meeting? Is it because she is such an asshole or does she has some problems at home? Get rid of your egocentric world view, and start to look at situations in different ways, with different eyes. Go out, and start with it in the next possible situation. Maybe it won’t help all times, but at least it will change your perception.