Welcome to this
issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback
means seeing everything from strictly your own perspective. "This is the way it
looks to ME." And that's the only way you can look at it. The versatility aspect
here is the ability to see things from other people's perspectives. A classic
situation of differing perspectives exists in companies that are organized into
rigid departments. They often don't communicate well with one another.
Subjectiveness is reflected everyday in statements such as: "Anyone who can't
see that we need to do it this way is an idiot!" "I won't accept anything less
than a ten percent decrease in this budget." And similar statements that make
the point of view expressed the ONLY possible point of view.
This negative trait of subjectiveness is related to the trait of rigidity. In
rigidity, the person is unwilling to consider any other point of view. In
subjectiveness, the person is unable to do that because he's stuck in his own.
There's a famous old eastern parable that you might have heard about five blind
men and an elephant. They were each asked to describe this beast and one said:
"It's like a tree," as he held on to the elephant's leg. "No, no, an elephant is
much like a piece of cord," said another. The third said: "I think the elephant
is most like a python." And so on.
Of course, each one had only a piece of the picture. It's easy to see that if
they could share each other's perspective, they'd come up with a whole picture.
And that's the advantage of getting past your own subjectiveness. We tend to get
stuck in limited and partial views of people or issues. We don't make the effort
to "get another camera angle" on the subject and as a result, we make decisions,
or have relationships that create problems.
Having only one way of seeing things automatically means having problems with
someone who has a different perspective. Those kinds of problems could be
avoided when we accept that there's more than one viewpoint on almost every
topic under the sun.
But we're back to HOW does one let go of being solely subjective? First of all,
it's fine to have your own viewpoint. The task is to make the distinction
between viewpoint and reality.
The reality is that the baby spilled the milk on the floor. Your viewpoint may
be that this is a mess that you have to clean up. Someone else at the table may
think it's quite funny, or quite cute. And the cat thinks it's a wonderful turn
of events. You can help your versatility in situations a lot by realizing
whenever you have an opinion or reaction, it's only one possibility. Don't
confuse your viewpoint with the reality of the facts. It's a liberating feeling
to realize that what you thought was reality was simply your point of view and
THAT can be changed.
You may say you're willing to see things from other people's perspectives, but
"CAN you do it?" is the question. You might try practicing on an issue that you
feel strongly about. Abortion. Gun control. Capital punishment. Universal health
care. Can you really articulate the argument of someone on the opposite side?
In more mundane matters, when you find yourself in a verbal tug-of-war, try this
line: "Now, let me see if I understand your perspective. What you're saying
is..." and finish it with an honest attempt at capturing the other person's
viewpoint. The more often you're able to change camera angles, to separate facts
from strongly held emotions, to articulate the opposite of what you believe, the
more you're exercising your versatility muscles.