Someone once said that a person’s perspective is their reality. That is true to a point because that perspective, or reality, in some instances can be changed. For example, if you ask anyone which way a hurricane rotates, the first answer you will get is “Counterclockwise, of course”.
And that is true. But only if you look at the formation from above, which is where we see it from, a satellites perspective. However, if we were able to look at that same hurricane rotation from below, from ground level, the perspective changes. Now it is rotating clockwise. A simple lesson on perspective and how your viewpoint can change how you see the same thing.
As leaders, we have learned that to be effective we have to be good listeners. How many times have we listened to someone with an idea or a complaint, no matter how sincere it is, and somewhere in the listening phase we begin to form a viewpoint and start listening from our perspective. If we are honest, it probably has happened more than we want to remember. This is not really listening, this is what I call selective hearing.
A better and more effective way of listening is to first clear the mind and atmosphere of all clutter. When someone comes to my office to talk about an issue or an idea I do two things first.
First, I close the laptop or turn away from the computer screen. If you don’t have one at your desk, then go to step two.
I make a point of taking my phone out and turning it off. Let the other person see you do it. Then I put it in a drawer.
With those two things out of the way you no longer have to think about an email popping up or your phone ringing. Now you are ready to listen and listen good. Take notes so you can go back to important points and bring them up again. Don’t interrupt, keep eye contact, don’t look at your watch or the clock on the wall, listen like you mean it. Whoever is sitting at your desk expects you to listen to them and respect their viewpoint. Remember that you are trying to gain insight as to where the person is coming from, what is driving them to bring the subject up in the first place. If we can do that, then it helps us to see the issue or idea from their perspective. And if we can do that, then it is a win-win situation for you and the person sitting in front of you.
Sometimes, when the dance floor is crowded and it’s hard to move, you have get on the balcony to get a good view of what is happening. It is still the same dance, but certainly a different perspective. See the big picture and remember that your view is not the only view and it is not always right. Even in group settings try to see where others are coming from. It makes for better meetings, better classes, and certainly more interesting and meaningful communication.
How do you see it?
Remember, Stay Safe – Everyone Goes Home
William Jolley has 37 years of experience in the fire service with 20 of those years in a management position. William was the Fire Chief of Haines City, Florida, a city of Approximately 20,000. Prior to that William was the Assistant Chief of Saint Petersburg, Florida, where he worked for 35 years.