Here is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, 21 Steps to Better Relationships, being released August 15, 2012. Enjoy!
If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “Take a walk in my shoes,” you knew the person saying it was asking you to see things from their perspective. The power of perspective is in our perceptions—what we know and believe based on what we’ve previously experienced. Since the diversity of our cultures, climates, and customs creates so many variations of our unique life experiences, we are never done learning. By maintaining a perspective of curiosity, we open ourselves to the perspectives of others. These lessons often come in the form of shared stories and opinions. This is wisdom passed forward.
Learning to appreciate differences helps us to make connections with people who have different viewpoints, beliefs, and experiences. Appreciating perspective practices compassion and builds trust. When we express empathy, we make a deep and valuable connection with someone’s feelings and demonstrate respect for their perspective. This builds a foundation of trust in new relationships and strengthens trust in our existing ones.
In relationships with healthy and balanced communication, we can compare our perspectives, beliefs, and opinions without fear of rejection. Sharing similar perspective is a form of validation. The phrase, “Been there, done that,” is a great example of a quick way to make a connection with someone with which whom you share a similar perspective. Appreciating perspective is a fundamental skill in collaboration. Utilizing our active listening skills gives us access to new information and insights previously unknown in our own experience, and allows us the opportunity to expand our knowledge.
Activating perspective keeps you open to new understanding within relationships.
The next time you speak with someone, imagine where they are coming from. If they’re telling you a story, imagine how they are feeling. If they offer an opinion, ask them for more clarification or meaning. Really seek to understand them and their thoughts and feelings. Take a walk in their shoes, and learn to truly appreciate their perspective. It will change your relationship!