Thursday, June 14, 2007

Seeing things from another's point of view

There are many good policies that generally help us. One policy is to see things from other people's points of view in addition to our own. It's all too easy to get wrapped up in our own views of the world, believing that what we ourselves see, what we feel, what we think, and how we react must be universally true. It's not.

No matter how much I know that, it still sometimes takes effort to get out of my frame of reference and see things as others might. If I'm working by myself and don't need additional insights, perhaps that's okay. If I need to learn or to work or interact with others (which accounts for most of what I do), it's in my best interest to be able to see things from their view, too, and to be able to reflect on the differences. (Sure, I can try to force things to be my way, but I'll likely build up a stock of resentment in others by such coercion, and that resentment may end up making things harder for me later.)

Another useful policy is to make things more concrete. We often spend much time talking high up on the ladder of abstraction. We're taught that in school, as teachers try to help us see patterns where we once just saw chaos. It can make for efficient conversation when we all know we're talking about the same thing, but it can also make for misunderstanding, confusion, and either unnecessary conflict (when we don't realize we agree) or lost learning (when we don't realize we disagree).

Earlier this week, Brad Trnavsky put both of those together in a field that many of us find challenging: sales. His Creating Feature / Benefit Statements That Work is a good reminder of the importance of seeing things from the other person's point of view, and he gives a concrete example to make sure we understand.

Brad just joined the blogosphere this month. Welcome, Brad!

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