“If you just communicate you can get by. But if you skilfully communicate, you can work miracles”
I was asked the other day, by a family member, what I’d just been doing. My response was to ask who’s verson they’d like to hear – mine was that I’d been grooming the cat. The cat’s verson was that I’d kidnapped her, held her against her will and scalped her!
There’s an old saying about there being two sides to every story – in fact you’ve probably noticed that there can be considerably more than two sets of interpretation of the same event if there’s more than two people involved.
If you are trying to effectively communicate with someone else it often helps if you have an understanding of the other person’s perspective.
After all, communication involves at least 2 people, the person who is “sending” the message and the one who is receiving. An understanding of how they process the message you give because of their beliefs, values and other perspectives can help you craft and adjust what and how you communicate to become more effective.
This week I invite you to play with something I originally used in a business setting during “complaint handling” trainings. While you can certainly use it with a situation where there is a conflict, you can also pick any scenario where there’s been a missunderstanding or you were bemused by another person’s response.
1. Pick a situation to play with where the communication that took place didn’t go the way you intended.
2. Grab a pen and paper and tell the story from your perspective from start to finish.
3. Once you’ve finished telling that story, either pick somewhere else to sit or a different position in which to sit. Yes I know it’s a strange instruction, and one that may be tempting to miss out but it’s in here to make the rest of the steps easier!
4. Now imagine the same scenario from the other person’s perspective. If you like you can literally imagine stepping into their shoes and seeing through their eyes. Write down their verson of events – remember it’s their version so you’ll need to be ensure that your description is as if it had happened to you personally ie “I was …”
5. When finished, again change where or how you are sat to a new third position. – Honest, people really do find this helps to see from a new perspective.
6. Now, imagine that a third party was watching the same scenario and see it through their eyes. This is someone who has no personal investment in the situation, so it’s an unbiased view. How would they describe what they saw?
Bonus steps: If you like repeat steps 5 and 6 and pick imagining getting the perspective from a mentor and/or someone you view as an expert in such a situation. What advice would they give you having seen their perspective?
7. Re-read each version and notice any new insights you’ve learned. How can you use this information and perspective in the future?
Remember, this is not an exercise to beat yourself up using the benefit of hindsight about what you could have done. It’s an exercise to help you get even more out of your communication and life – maybe even allow you to work miracles
Have a week full of perspectives
Categories : communication, Influence, thought