The POV Singularity

Everyone has a point of view. It is what makes us all different. We all look upon things based on our history and life experiences. The worst part of this is that we all think we are right and the other person is automatically wrong.

A couple of weeks ago I was in a meeting with an individual and the ensuing discussion is what made me decide to write this post. It was one of the most trying meetings I have been a party to in quite some time. The difficulty was not in the fact that we disagreed on what constituted a proper course of action, the difficulty was that the other person didn’t agree that there was even an issue to address, and from his personal POV, there wasn’t.

He came to a decision in his mind and was incapable of seeing the situation from a different point of view. Without giving away the particulars, here is a re-enactment of the conversation:

Me: It’s snowing.
Them: No. It’s not.
Me: (looks out window, sees snow) Yes, it is.
Them: (Looks at picture of Florida on desk) Nope.

The point here is, we each came up with completely different results based solely on the point of view we used to make our decision. To come up with an acceptable answer, you need to be able to understand the point of view the other person is using to come up with their answer.

Truth be told, there are just some people in this world that are incapable of seeing a problem from multiple points of view. One of my favorite quotes of all time is attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

This goes for points of view as well. You cannot have a singular focus when it comes to understanding others. You need to be able to understand where they are coming from. What is motivating the result they have come to. Why they have a different agenda.

Only until you understand these things can you start to make collaborative headway on the topic you are discussing. Personally, I believe this lesson is sorely needed in todays politics, but it also very much needed in our business communications.

So, go be that person. Go try and understand what drives people to make the decisions that they make and then how you can make your POV better understood.

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