Taking on more perspectives
We cannot understand others only by using our own perspective; we have to go beyond ourselves and look through someone else's eyes and see their perspective and the environment in which they exist.
Have you ever experienced a shift in how you viewed someone after better understanding the circumstances they were living through? Maybe it was an employee that was often late to work, which made you think of them as lazy and unprofessional. That is, until you discovered they had a sick family member they were taking care of on their own?
A concept of Adlerian Psychology is all behaviour must be understood from the social context within which it happens.
We cannot begin to better understand others only by using our own perspective; we have to go beyond ourselves and look through someone else's eyes and see their perspective and the environment in which they exist.
The social context and environment that we are in have a significant impact on our behaviours. Take the controversial Stanford prison experiment conducted in 1971, for example.
The experiment consisted of college students taking on the role of prisoners and guards. Professor Philip G. Zimbardo wanted to discover what happens when you put good people in an evil place. He was afraid it might be a very long and boring experiment. Instead, he and the other researchers found that the guards took on ruthless conduct with the prisoners; good people took on destructive behaviours. They ended the experiment early, after only six days, because the students were already suffering psychological effects.
While an extreme example, it does illustrate that we cannot look at people's behaviour as separate from their social context and environment.
Every behaviour has a meaning, whether we understand it or not. As such, like my good friend Shane Spice likes to say, all behaviours make sense.
To better understand behaviours, we need to look beyond what we see on the surface. We need to understand the context in which they are happening, and further, we also might need to understand the culture and environment that led to them.
It’s important to note that while all behaviour makes sense, not all behaviour is acceptable.
When we develop our ability to take on other people's perspectives and become curious, we become less prone to being triggered by behaviour that we don’t understand. In turn, it gives us an advantage in dealing with these circumstances and developing our ability to have a little more compassion for others. It has the benefit of making us better individuals, better leaders and, overall, better human beings.
How can taking on more perspectives and becoming curious help you moving forward?
Sparknotion – Think Differently.