As a child, I was slightly more bullheaded as I can be today. I remember one specific incident in elementary school that has stayed with me all these years.
I think it’s especially poignant given today’s political and social discourse. You see, many years ago I found myself in a serious argument with another boy in my class. For the life of me I can’t remember what the argument was about, but I have never forgotten the lesson I learned that day.
During the argument, I was convinced that “I” was right and “he” was wrong, he was just as convinced that “I” was wrong, and that “he” was right. But it was our teacher who decided to teach us both a very important lesson.
Our teacher brought both of us to the front of the class and placed him on one side of her desk and me on the other side. In the middle of her desk was a large, round object. I could clearly see that is was black. Our teacher asked the boy I was arguing with what the color of the object was. He replied “White.”
I was in complete shock! How could he say the object was white when it was clearly black! I didn’t know if he was blind or simply messing with me, but either way another disagreement started between us about the color of the object.
After a few moments of going back and forth with the boy, my teacher told me to stand where the other boy was standing. We changed places, and now she asked me to tell her what color the object was. To my amazement, it was white! I was forced to answer truthfully, “White.” Embarrassed and humbled, I walked away that day understanding that the object had two differently colored sides, and from his viewpoint, it was white. Only on my side was it black.
To this day, I understand that when I see something it may have a different side to it. Sometimes we need to look at a subject or issue from the other side of the coin or from another person’s viewpoint. Doing this helps us truly understand their perspective and gives us the wisdom to communicate with other people from their level.
In business and in our personal life, looking at things from the other person’s point of view helps us respect people and gives us a foundation to work from. If we refuse to see things from other people’s point of view we are losing out on quality communication and could be tearing down potentially beneficial relationships.
My question to you is, “How can looking at things from another’s viewpoint alter your life for the better?”