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Being Right and Wrong at the Same Time – A Matter of Perspective

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Watching what is happening in the states and the debates in the House as a result of the surge on the USA capital, I take a moment to try and understand what is going on. It reminded me that everyone there is right and wrong regardless of where they stormed the capital or are in the House debating the issues. Listening to the senators, it has gotten to the point where one side could say that it is a beautiful sunny day and in response, the other side is going to say that it is rainy and night time. These are two extreme views of the same thing but actually both sides are right…how? And at the same time…they are both wrong…but how?

If you believe your perspective to be true, you will be doing what you can to build your side and reject the other side. You are right because your perspectives tell you that are right and counter to that is wrong, but by rejecting the other side, you are wrong to the other person’s perspective and their view of the world because you are counter to them…you will talk, but not listen. This is how you are right and wrong at the same time. Through your eyes, you are right and any one opposed is wrong but equally at the same time, you are wrong in the eyes of others who oppose your views.

Perspective is an interesting topic to think about. We all have it and it comes from our upbringing, society, the people around us and what we have been fed. Slowly and over time, our perspectives are carved and formed and then it becomes who we are. It is like the sculptor hammering at the granite block with their hammer and chisel, forming a solid piece into something. That is what our perspectives are…solid, hard and there for all to see. The sad part is that once our granite piece is formed, it is difficult to change.

In my organizational behaviour class, I share an exercise to demonstrate perspectives. I put up a picture of the ocean and I say to my class, “One word and only one word, how do you describe the ocean?” Well, I get words like deep, blue, calm, scary, fish, pirates, mermaid, horizon, sand and the list goes on and on. After, I ask students, “Ok, but which one is the right word?” The students will come back saying that they are all correct and they all represent the ocean. True! They are all correct but why is it that in the work environment and politics, there will only be one word! I also ask my students why it might be important to consider the other people’s word and they chime back saying that it might give you a different view or way of thinking. BINGO! But why have we forgotten this in our daily lives. We are so busy pushing our perspectives and afraid to listen to other people because they might actually have some valid points. We may think we are right but maybe we are wrong.

Here are some ways to try and appreciate other people’s perspective
Be open minded Be willing to listen to other people and don’t immediately think in your mind why they are wrong. Don’t build your arguments against them while they are explaining their situation…LISTEN
Put yourself in someone else’s shoesTake the time to not judge a person’s perspective but rather try and consider how their perspective applies and why it might matter to them and maybe that it is valid in their eyes.
Try and appreciate someone else’s perspectiveYou don’t have to adopt their view but respect their perspective and this is where religion and politics come in. When you push your perspective on others, you are saying everything about their upbringing is wrong and yours is right. We know this does not lead to a favorable conversation. Don’t impose.
Be respectfulWhen people share their perspectives, and depending on the topic, it can get heated. By being respectful, it enables the conversation to happen and dialogue to engage so that it does not become toxic.
Try to understand how someone’s perspective might helpRather than considering why the other perspective is wrong, consider how it might fit or work. In the workplace, I am a conceptual thinker, I need the detailed person to point out what I might be missing so I am always open to the other perspective.
Just because you read or hear it somewhere, it does not mean that it is always trueWe are always seeking our truth and the source does not really matter. As long as what they are saying lines up with what we believe, then it is right. Unfortunately, all you have to do is watch Fox News and CNN to see that there are opposing and biased views and sides only listen to what agrees with their perspective.
You just might learn somethingBy being more open, you just might learn something new and have a new found wisdom that helps you to say, “that makes sense.”

The times are challenging and we need to listen more and speak less, to be more open to conversations and dialogue, try and understand positions that might not line up to your beliefs and be respectful to each other. My perspective is that we need more tolerance in this world in order to heal. Talk to me, I am open to your thoughts and perspectives. Educate me and enrich my mind with your words.


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