A couple of weeks ago, I had an experience that reminded me how true it is that we see the world through our own perspective. So much so that our experience, in the exact same situation as someone else, can be entirely different. And it’s not until we pause and sincerely try to see the world as the other person does that we can appreciate their perspective.
Here’s the story. A man I dated briefly, my first year of college, sent me a message through Facebook Messenger. At first, I wasn’t sure who the sender was, after all, this was more than 40 years ago. After a while I remembered, so I responded and said hello. He wrote back telling me he was glad to be in touch because he owed me an apology. Turned out, from his perspective, when I transferred to another college we had an agreement that he was to join me. He didn’t join me after all, he said, and he felt he had broken our agreement.
High standards he has for himself you might say, especially since he is still thinking about this after 40 years, that’s perhaps a topic for another discussion about letting stuff go.
Going back to the perspective subject, my memory of the situation was completely different. What I remembered was he did contact me and I had moved on; I wasn’t wanting or expecting to see him.
Who knows which perspective is what actually happened; perspective in this case is clouded by years. However, the fact that each of us remembered the exact same situation so differently, has stayed with me since our brief interchange on Facebook Messenger.
It’s a reminder to me to stop and listen and ask questions, to be sure I work hard to see the world as the people in my life see it. As a leadership coach, I must work to see every perspective, not just my own. Not easy and nothing important is easy, is it?
The challenge for most of us is we are busy moving forward, busy with our own perspectives and we just don’t take the time to pause. We assume, we challenge, and we see only what we believe to be so.
In this new year, what will you do, to try to see the world from someone else’s perspective?