See The World Through The Eyes Of Others

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It’s not only important what we think, but also what and how others see things. 

 
One the things, the folks that work with me frequently hear from me is “Let me put myself in the other person’s shoes for a moment, and give you feedback on that.”
 
We are what we are and not as our customers are, and while we may strive for excellence in customer service, our customers may have completely different notions of what that means.
 
For example, I may think a 24-hour turnaround on something is pretty good given everything on our plate, but when I imagine myself in the customer’s shoes for a moment, I may change that expectation to “We need to get this done by noon today (or sooner)!”
 
People are different, our experiences, our cultures, our context and the way we interpret things. 
 
So when it comes to work or family or even social issues, being compassionate often means seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. 
 
There was an interesting article in the New York Times called “Imaging The Lives Of Others” by psychologist, Paul Bloom. 
 
While he notes the importance to “behold the universe through the eyes of another,” he also says how difficult this really is. 
 
If you haven’t done something, how can you really imagine what it was like, let alone know what it was like for someone else to experience it?
 
Without the access to the particular significant life experience, the duration, the controls (so you can’t just say stop like in an experiment), perhaps a person can never fully know what it’s like. 
 
For example, if you haven’t been through a devastating war, can you truly know what it’s like to be in a foxhole and have the bullets whooshing by your head and the tanks rumbling over it?
 
Yes, we can imagine, but that is probably a far cry!
 
Yet, to really empathize with others, do right by them, and to make good leadership decisions, we most certainly need to at least try to see and experience the world the way others do. 
 
Thinking about the over 805 million hungry people in the world today, it is much more impactful to imagine myself hungry and starving, then just to say the mere fact that these poor people exist.
 
We can probably never know someone’s else pain and suffering the way they do, but through our own experiences, extrapolation from them, and our imagination, we can at least try to elevate ourselves for a purely self-centric universe of one that is of billions (under one G-d), and who need our understanding, compassion, support, and help. 😉
 
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Making Change Probable

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An article this week in the Wall Street Journal (15 May 2012) called us “a nation of whiners.”

 

The national insult aside, what was more important was that the author lamented that whining doesn’t help, but problem-solving does!

 

According to the article, whiners can be treated therapeutically by:

 

1) Mirroring–letting people see/hear themselves in this state of learned helplessness.

 

2) Challenging–confronting whiners and asking them what they are going to do about their situation.

 

3) Encouraging–providing positive reinforcement when people make positive steps to taking control of their lives.

 

Similarly, there are those who get stuck in a sort of professional rut, complaining about the status quo, but they have trouble working incrementally to try and change things.

 

A strong leader can help their people move on from the status quo, applying the therapeutic techniques above, but also by doing the following:

 

1) Inquire–talk with your people and find out what they think is working, isn’t, and how things can be improved.

 

2) Envision–together, set a vision for a better future that addresses people’s genuine concerns in the aggregate.

 

3) Empower–delegate specific actions so everyone can be a part of the solution; give them the authority along with the responsibility to make change possible.

 

4) Observe–monitor progress and review whether the changes being made are having a positive impact and where adjustments in strategy need to be made.

 

These are really fundamental leadership skills, but applied to people who are feel helpless, hopeless, or are just plain resistant to change, the key is how we exemplify forward momentum and help others feel they too can make a genuine difference.

 

Bad situations are generally not life sentences, if we can but imagine positive change, break it down into incremental steps, and then put one foot in front of the other, and we are on our way.

 

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to Rifqi Dahlgren)