Thinking from someone else’s eyes is a skill often many people miss. Understanding what others think and why might they be thinking those things can be a very important skill to master at times. The easiest way to do this is to simply remove every preconceived biases from your mind and try to picture yourself in the shoes of this other person. Most of the times you would understand why they do the things they do. However, it can get a bit complicated at times. So lets try to break this down.
What does all of this even mean?
While you sit in your room reading this article you have a perspective of the world which almost always will be different than someone else. You may have experienced things differently. You may have found a lot of kind people in your life, which may have shaped your worldview differently. But what if you didn’t meet many good people in your life? You might have a very negative world view of the outside world.
Say, You’re having an argument with one of your friends over a politician. You don’t like this person, but your friend here absolutely loves this person. You try to tell them why you don’t like them, but they won’t listen to you.
Why is that?
This is because your friend had a completely different perspective for this politician compared to you. If you don’t understand why they feel the way do you will always think there is something wrong with them. This feeling of dislike and even disgust at times may then get amplified because of confirmation bias a tendency most of us are innately affected with.
Thinking in different perspectives then is crucial so you can differentiate properly between malice, difference in school of thought and stupidity.
It also allows you to understand why the other person may think the way they are thinking, and perhaps you could have much milder disagreements and come to manageable middle grounds more often.
What influences a person’s perspective?
- Childhood experiences
- Financial level
- Influence of Parents
- Influence of society
There are some minor things which influence our perspectives too such as genetic character traits.
When we push different values into these points, it creates a reality which is unique to our own. They influence how we think about ourselves, others and the world.
How to make it easy?
Thinking in multiple perspectives is going to be difficult if you’ve never done this before without a doubt. But there are a few things you can do to improve this ability.
Reverse debate technique
Debate on behalf of your opponent. While doing so you will notice a lot of things. Throw all of your preconceived ideas out of the window while doing this. While you research on the topic while debating for your opponent you will start to see things through their eyes.
Close your eyes and play pretend
You can try this with no participants. All you need is a silent place and your mind. Imagine you are working in a factory as a daily wage worker.
Ask yourself, “As a worker, what do I want out of life?” Write it down.
Take a small break then ask yourself something like “As a teacher at this college for over 12 years what do I want out of life?” Do this as many times as you want all with different scenarios.
When you do this often you will start to build worlds and characters sometimes you can even add backstories. This trick isn’t perfect but it trains your mind to think from different perspectives without judging upfront. Making this a habit is crucial if you really want to learn how to think in different perspectives.
When you first start trying to interpret others by trying to wear the lens of their worldview misinterpretation will be a very normal thing. This is fine. You will only get better with time. However don’t take your interpretation of others perspective as the reality at start. Humans love to think they have the full picture before they really do because in a sense we are all naturally narcissists.
If your goal is perfection at this ability to gauge the perspectives of people around you it becomes imperative to keep improving this skill. Learning a skill requires time, repetition and focus.
Some things to keep in mind
There are two ways you can gather the perspective of the other person.
- Taking it from the source: This is when you ask someone for the things that influence them by having small talks. This is really helpful to build a quick picture of what the worldview this person has.
- Seek it out: When you are done with taking the perspective from the source or if there is no access to the source the next step is to seek it out actively. This is also called information gathering. Therefore, our information is so expensive. Companies and businesses do this all the time. Naturally, nothing is stopping you from seeking out and manually deciphering the perspective of other people.
Mastering the ability to understand different perspectives is a difficult task, but it is a skill which can be acquired. This generally leads to a life with much lesser conflicts and a higher quality of relationships, business or otherwise.