I was in Barcelona last week! As glamorous as that sounds, here’s a confession. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to traveling alone. If my husband had been with me, we would have been hitting the tapas bars, exploring the local delights. But when I arrived, I was tired, the streets were busy, it was getting dark and I didn’t know where to go (all excuses, I know!) So I stayed put in the hotel instead. It was a very nice hotel – but it could have been a very nice hotel anywhere.
I did venture out the next morning, before my workshop and explored the amazing indoor market, and even had Patatas Bravas for breakfast (got to be done right?)
But later on in the day, during a workshop break, I saw the street from an entirely different perspective. Just a few metres up, from the second floor balcony the street looked almost peaceful. People milling about, trinkets twinkling as they caught the sun. I could have stayed there all day, watching the world go by.
A few hours later, I was in a plane again, taking off. Watching the streets turn into strings of sparkling fairy lights, completely peaceful, totally beautiful. I’ll never tire of that view.
Amazing what a difference a shift in perspective can make.
One of my workshop delegates noticed something similar with the way she’s learned to deal with difficult email conversations – whether it’s a customer complaint, a harsh response, or a brusque demand. Whenever she gets an email that might potentially upset her she imagines as if the email had come from one of her nicest colleagues, someone who’s “always sweet, always lovely”, and tries to imagine if that colleague had written the email – what would cause her to write an email like that? What would she have meant by it? What else could be going on? Was she having a bad day, or distracted, or under pressure? Is there another way of reading it? Perhaps there’s even a typo, or a line missing? What else could it mean?
This simple shift in perspective allows her to see beyond her initial reaction and interpretation, and seek a different understanding. She avoided taking things personally, and was able to deal with the issue at hand – if there was even an issue to begin with – and was able to respond thoughtfully rather than react heatedly.
What situation do you feel surrounded or overwhelmed by – or even under attack?
Try shifting your perspective:
- Imagine the situation from the other person’s perspective – or someone else entirely
- Change the face – or tone of voice – behind the words
- Stand up, or take a walk. Physically look at it from a different perspective
- Imagine navigating a 6 year old through the situation – or your best friend
- Sleep on it. Come back to it in the light of day.
What other ways have you used to change your perspective? And what could a shift in perspective do for you this week?
Let me know…