With so much happening on the world stage at this moment, among these, the Covid-19 pandemic and black lives matter movement, it has prompted me to pause and reflect on the importance of understanding the perspectives of others when we don’t have the ‘lived’ experience.
How we make sense of the world and see our roles in it is a result of our upbringing, our experiences and our interactions with others. They are the lenses through which we look out to the world and our perspective or worldview is arguably the single greatest aspect of our uniqueness. Therefore, the ability to appreciate different viewpoints broadens our perspectives
The skill of perspective taking is foundational for relating and building relationships with others. It is also a practical way of checking our assumptions and being open to other points of view. With my clients, I use a model created by Professor Binna Kandola. Although it has six steps, it is a very fluid model apart from step one which is to suspend your own views, opinions and judgements. The other steps can be completed in a non-linear method. Here is the model:
Suspending our own judgements is actually incredibly challenging and difficult to do, often because we use our viewpoint to justify and explain. Think about “mansplaining” and “whitesplaining”. Research has shown that the best way to support those whose perspective may be different to our own, is to listen and engage to gain insight into their experiences. It opens us up to an alternative perspective or worldview. We do not have to agree with the different perspective, but it gives us insights and appreciation. The beauty of this model is it can be applied in many differing contexts- generational, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or anything else where there are differing opinions. I encourage you to experiment with it and see if it helps you make better sense of a situation.