A Different Perspective Can Make All the Difference

Most of us are creatures of habit. That’s one big reason the principles of influence are so effective at helping you hear “Yes!” when making requests of others. We cruise along on autopilot most of the time painstakingly doing whatever we can to avoid thinking.

One automatic thing most adults do every day is drive to work. I’ve heard people say sometimes they get in the car and before they know it they’re at work. The scary thing is they don’t remember anything about the drive! As fate would have it, I don’t have that luxury till the end of May or beginning of June, depending on how efficient the Ohio Department of Transportation is at completing some highway repairs in downtown Columbus. During the repairs I have to find a new way into work.Is this a pain? Somewhat, because I have to leave earlier than normal, take a different route and contend with many other drivers doing the same thing. But it’s not all bad. I was convicted by my own words because each morning I tell myself, “This is the day the Lord has made so I will be happy and rejoice in it. Today will be a good day because I will approach everything with a positive attitude and I will learn from every situation.”
So I made the choice to be positive and to learn something. As I drove one day I decided not to just follow the same alternate route so I got off at an exit I’d never used in 20 years of working downtown. What struck me as I got off the highway was how completely different the city looked from this new vantage point. I was faced with some old, very cool looking buildings when I came to the stop sign. As I turned left I saw what looked like an old warehouse building and found myself wondering what went on in that building over the years. Then I turned left and drove below an overpass and saw Columbus State Community College from an angle I’d never seen it from before. As all of this was occurring I thought, “This is really cool scenery. I’d enjoy it if I saw these sites every day.” I was also struck by how different everything was so I decided I’d write about it. What does this mean for you when it comes to influence? Sometimes trying to gain someone else’s perspective can go a long way when it comes to influence. As I pondered this I thought about the election of Barack Obama. Please don’t comment on politics because what I’m about to share has nothing to do with politics. For whatever reason, the drive in and thinking about perspective brought me back to the day after the election. That day I emailed my best friend Russell Barrow, an African-American, and simply asked, “Did you ever think you’d see this in your lifetime?” I got an incredibly heartfelt reply back telling me how much pride he felt. I tried to put myself in his shoes and as I did I saw things differently. I really believe if more people would do that rather than simply retain their perspective and defend their position more dialog would happen and more things could get accomplished.

Imagine I’m holding up my right hand with my palm towards me and finger nails towards you. If someone asked us to describe what we see our descriptions would be very different. I’d say my thumb is on my right but you’d say it’s on your left. I’d describe finger prints while you talked about finger nails. I’d comment on the lines in my palm and you’d be talking about the veins and hair you see on the back of my hand. These are two very different descriptions that could lead to some disputes. However, if we changed our perspectives we get a more complete picture and can find things to agree on. The more you and I find to agree on the easier it becomes to find mutually beneficial solutions to more pressing issues.Some of you may say this is this a bit simplistic and I’d agree. But I’d contend that life’s not always as complicated as we might think it is. Spouses could use some simplicity – just love each other, do what’s in the best interest of the other person and trust they’ll do the same. Parents would do well do just tell their kids how much they love them and to set aside their priorities to spend time with kids. At work, just do your best, quit grumbling but also give honest feedback when necessary. Yea, it’s all simple stuff but simple stuff that could make life a whole lot easier and nicer for so many of us.So here’s the take away – try to change your perspective on something or someone after you read this. Make yourself see things in a new, fresh way and see how that impacts your thoughts, attitude and conversations. If you do this I think others will sense it, appreciate it and open up to you.Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

6 replies
  1. Drew Hawkins
    Drew Hawkins says:

    This was a great post Brian! I really liked your example with the different vantage points of the hand. It's true if everyone tried to see things at different angles and weren't so focused on "winning" the debate, we would have a lot more progress

  2. Brian
    Brian says:

    I'm glad you liked it Drew. The hand is a nice, easy way to demonstrate that reality when I conduct training sessions. Only downside – my wife keeps holding her hand up when I disagree with her!

  3. Warren Davies
    Warren Davies says:

    Interesting! The good old personal epiphany, love it when that happens.

    Regarding the start of the article though, do you think that people who are more mindful and aware would therefore be less susceptible to influence? I'm thinking that they might be on autopilot less, so certain influence techniques that rely on that (such as the old "can I skip in front of you because I need to make copies" line) would not work (or be less likely to work).


  4. Brian
    Brian says:

    I think any time someone is more self-aware they'll make different decisions. I like Sun Tzu, know yourself and know your enemy and you won't be imperiled in 100 battles. Not that it makes you a better fighter, you know which battles to fight. Self-awareness gives me the chance to at least make a different decision, possibly extract myself where in the past I would have blindly gone along.

  5. Brian Ahearn
    Brian Ahearn says:

    Thanks Dennis. I got to practice what I preach the other day. I was going to wear new pants to work but decided not to because they didn't fit quite right. When I got home that night I spilled coffee on the ones I did wear. I grumbled, went upstairs and saw the new pants on the bed. My new perspective – I'm glad I didn't wear those so I can still take them back. It acutally made me feel better. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.