Relationship Life Skill Check: Perspective

Do you want healthy relationships? Having perspective will allow you to understand and get along and communicate effectively with the people around you.

Understanding perspective means you understand two people can look at the same thing and see different things. If there is a wall and one of you is shorter than the wall and the other is taller than the wall, then one of you can see past the wall and the other only sees the wall. The wall is the same, the facts are the same, but what each of you sees is different. That is perspective.

Getting along with other people’s perspective means when your shorter friend says they only see the wall, you validate their perspective by saying you hear and understand they only see the wall. If you want to not get along, then you can say “I see more than the wall, something is wrong with you if you only see the wall” or “I don’t understand why you say you only see the wall.” If you want to get along with other people, you need to acknowledge their perspectives when it is different than yours.

Communicating Effectively means describing and including their perspective in your message. For example, if you are tall enough to step over the wall but your shorter friend is not, then telling your shorter friend to step over the wall is communicating ineffectively because your short friend will not be able to achieve your request. Instead, you should say “since there is a wall that you can’t step over, go to the left and through the doorway” and provide instructions from the other person’s perspective.

The next time you give an instruction and someone else fails to achieve it, consider whether you understand that person’s perspective well enough to be giving the right instructions.

Here is a youtube video to illustrate the power of perspective: a mother was upset at her daughter because her daughter had cut her own hair into a mess, and her mother thought the daughter was causing trouble and needed to be disciplined. However, Mr. Rogers helped the mother realize that the daughter had tried to cut her own hair to look like her mother’s. The same facts: the daughter cut the hair and made a mess. Different perspective: causing trouble or demonstrating love.

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