During the middle ages, hardly anyone dared to challenge the belief that the earth was flat. Now, everybody has been informed by space photography that this is not the case. From a certain distance, everything looks quite different. This is exactly the challenge of today’s working environment: To understand others by a change of perspective. It is precisely this ability to understand the thinking and actions of others that enables a leader to better guide and help other people to develop.
The Three Golden Rules to improve your perspective changing skills:
Rule No. 1: Active listening
Basic requirement for a change of perspective is an understanding for the discussion or negotiation partner. The more opportunity he/she is given to present his/her ideas, the better the chances for mutual understanding. Therefore it is helpful to encourage the other person to communicate his/her narrative by spoken word, and if this is not enough, by drawings or other means of visualization. The more creativity a dialogue partner is able to display the better. By no means interfere, interrupt or comment what is presented. Or worse: Do not EVER start to write or draw on the same paper or blackboard. You must never touch or alter the medium used by the narrator.
Rule No. 2: Thinking in boxes prohibited
The virtual evaluation as “right or wrong” is an innate human quality and helps us to (allegedly) make the right gut decisions in difficult situations. The more life experience a person brings along, the faster this happens. But in this context, it is plain wrong. To absorb what is said with an open mind, abstaining from interpreting all possible consequences and reasons: This is the right approach, even if it’s hard. This very skill allows you to tell the “real, systemic” coachesfrom those who pretend to be coaches but, at best, can give expert advice, but often also inept guidance for household, family or work life. Regrettably, they are the ones that will not be in for switching perspectives together with you!
Rule No. 3: Confirmation by asking and repeating
It is required to validate the other’s outlook by asking questions and paraphrasing statements, until it becomes possible to understand his/her way of thinking. Then, additional details have to be identified. At this point, it is helpful to investigate beliefs, principles, experience and values. As it is the case for any construct, a picture can be completed only to the extent to which the client or employee is willing to talk about it. An interrogatory discussion style is, of course, not productive and would only lead to irritations in the relationship between superior and employee.
A change of perspective triggers innovation
Your can also trigger and support a change of perspective in your employee or client. Asking: “What would you do if there were no limitations with regard to time and money?” can help the person to abandon his former outlook on his/her current life situation and to immerse into another perspective.
As far as a person allows to be freed from the constraints of daily routine, he/she will often be able to concentrate on what is important. The approach greatly enhances the look onto non-standard solutions. This imagination exercise alone results in incredible deliverance and boosts the client’s innovation.
One of the most important skills of a modern leader is the ability to see things from another’s perspective. It may look as if this were the same thing as empathy, but this is not the case. In a professional context, a neutral distance will always be upheld when changing perspectives. This competence is one of a leader’s most important tools to inspire, develop and guide others, which is one of the reasons why leaders increasingly seek training as Business Coaches to acquire these skills.