Everyone does life from a little different perspective. Just like we all have unique fingerprints or hair follicles, we all see things from our unique vantage point. As a result, we communicate with each other from our perspective. It seems so clear and obvious to us when we say it. It’s unbelievably surprising when we realize that someone has misunderstood us. In fact, we are so deeply entrenched in our perspective that it is difficult to even uncover that someone else has misunderstood us.
I found myself consistently angry with a boss I had for a couple of years until I realized that I misunderstood him. I finally wrote myself a note in big red letters, “If it doesn’t sound like a good plan, if you feel angry about it, you have misunderstood him.” I went into every staff meeting with this note in front of me, so that I would not react to whatever he had communicated. His perspective was different than mine and I was having trouble seeing things from his perspective.
When we understand other people’s perspective, we are better equipped to communicate well with them. I have a friend who is detail-oriented, logical, reserved and has a high need to be accurate. (By the way, she’s a bookkeeper. That style of hers is a perfect match for keeping the spreadsheets organized.) Her biggest fear is being wrong. Disorganization stresses her out in a big way. When she is dealing with someone who is enthusiastic, talkative, all about people — not the task, she cannot expect facts and she needs to find a way to be encouraging. No one perspective is better than the other, they’re just different. When an outspoken, competitive, quick action, strong-willed boss, who needs control and fears being taken advantage of communicates to a friendly, sympathetic, agreeable, considerate, listening employee, what could go wrong? Right? The more we can understand those four different styles I just described, the more communication will flow with ease.
As we begin to think about the other person’s perspective, their fears, their needs, the things that stress them, we will have the insight we need to communicate in a way that makes sense to them. If you’d like more help with this, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.