Have you noticed how perspectives play a significant role in our lives?

Don’t believe me or are unsure what I’m talking about?

Spend a little time on social media, and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

It’s hard to scroll more than a couple of posts without seeing how perspectives feed the conversations about:

  • Politics
  • Finances and the recession
  • Processes and ways of working
  • How to spend your leisure time
  • And, just about everything else people post

Now, I want to separate the toxicity that perspectives can bring about from the healthy dialogue (or even debate.)

When it comes to toxicity, you don’t have to scroll far on social media to find such posts. For example, look at the replies to posts where people become belligerent or condescending towards others.

It’s not a debate of ideas. It’s an attack on another person and their perspective.

Simply put, it’s about making you wrong and me right.

Take, for example, the *Algonquin* *Park* group on Facebook. Algonquin Park is a wilderness park north of Toronto where we love to camp.

Last year, someone posted a question asking what the bugs would be like three months from ‘now.’ (They were referring to June when the biting insects can be horrendous.)

I replied with something like, “I’m sure they’ll be very experienced by then.”

It was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek answer (if you know me, you’ll know I can joke around at times.)

However, in hindsight, I don’t like how I replied to this person.

The thing is, I’m sure the person who asked the question doesn’t have my level of outdoor experience. After all, I wouldn’t think of asking such a question as I know June can be horrible when biting insects.

That said, what would have been different if, instead, I had offered my experience in reply?

For example, I could have said something like, “June can be a brutal month for biting insects. If you choose to go, be well equipped with several insect sprays as not all work for every type of bug.” (Then add some suggestions for what works for me.)

My point is, how often do people jump to a position that discounts someone’s perspective or question?

This same thinking applies when talking about someone’s perspective in their work.

How often do you see or hear:

  • Managers discounting someone’s idea for change, as they couldn’t possibly know given they’re only a <insert role/title here>.”
  • Discounting a manager’s idea for change as they aren’t in the day-to-day work.”
  • “They’re resistant to change” when in fact, they just have a different perspective about what might or might not work

The truth is, all perspectives are correct. And, all perspectives are wrong.

The next time you hear a perspective that differs from yours, pause to notice your response.

  • How many times do you shut down another perspective because your internal dialogue has you voting on it before honestly considering it?
  • When listening to another’s perspective, are you plotting a brilliant reply, or are you listening intently to ensure you understand their point of view?
  • Do you have an explicit working agreement with your team about how together you will consider and make decisions around differing perspectives?

Allowing perspectives to be seen, heard, and given a fair chance is critical to the innovation and improvement your team and organization want.

Perspectives.

You may disagree with mine. In fact, you don’t have to agree with mine.

However, how do you expect to find the best path forward without listening to each other’s perspectives?

You’ve got this.

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