Understanding a person’s perspective is an impossibility. Empathy goes a long way, but you still use your own perspective to qualify the other person’s point of view. Use your empathic nature to acknowledge people, their words, actions, and presence. Acknowledge them simply up to the point of “I see you.” Accept people as they are, however, this does not mean you have to accept their actions should they cross your preferential values. You can never see from a person’s perspective as this perspective is unique, just like yours. It has formed over years of life experience of, and exposure to, one’s individual environment. Mix in a person’s own unique array of roles and the degree to which they identify with their roles, and add to that the context that has formed the role to be what it is, and you may start to see it is simply impossible to have the same experience from another person’s perspective. We may have an ‘educated and well-informed guess’ based on the familiarity and time spend with this particular person, and we may both call the cushion red, but it may be green to my eyes.
So where is the common ground? The common ground is calling the cushion red. I assume you see what I see, you do the same, and now we both feel safe. We have created a shared reality. A shared reality is the assumption that the other person is understanding things in a similar way. This puts an interesting perspective on the concept of truth. Is truth the shared reality, or is truth the individual’s perspective of that? As we can only assume what the other perspective(s) may be, truth as a concept can only be assumed.
There is no truth, there is only perspective. Reality is the experience of the perspective, this is what makes the shared reality so important.
A shared reality, the assumed alignments of individual perspectives, gives us a sense of belonging, purpose, and well-being. It is extremely unnerving to a human being to have a misaligned perspective to a commonly shared reality of others. Perceiving something most people do not, can isolate a person and ignite emotional responses related to being able to trust their own, and other people’s perspectives. Without a reality to share nothing can be trusted. This is what feeds cultural differences. As individual perspectives encountering a new place (work, city/countryside, new country, culture, or social group) we automatically adapt our perspective to what seems to be the shared reality, in order to fit in. We do this naturally because this way we have a greater chance of survival in that particular environment. This is nature’s way. The environment dictates how life manifests itself.
A tree grows in the main wind direction. A river runs according to the landscape. People form shared realities according to previously created shared realities of others in their environment of influence.
Hence why different cultures have different emotional and cognitive responses to the same stimulus. I remember my first trip to Japan many years ago. I learned very quickly one does not walk over tatami while wearing shoes. One puts on slippers to enter the toilet facilities and does not walk out back to your table in the restaurant still wearing those toilet slippers. OK, it provided hilarious entertainment to the hundred or so restaurant punters, but simultaneously it may have inspired ideas of how to make the social rules more understandable to foreign visitors. ‘The do’s and do not’s of the slippers and the bathroom.’
You may sense ‘a breach’ of your cultural values when a person with a different social environment to yours behaves differently to you. What a word means to you comes down to rational and analytical interpretation. How you react to it emotionally, depends on your shared realities.
We build our shared realities with more than words. It is the intention, the deeper preferences, values, and instincts that we perceive in the communication and presence of others. The level of your openness to understanding the deeper intention of people’s behaviour influences how well you are able to pick up changes in their attitude.
People’s perspective drives why they are doing things that way. How you perceive this will determine how well you adapt to (unexpected) change.
How swiftly can you adapt your perspective to align yourself with the new shared reality to benefit from the new context? Tip of the day; the more resistance you feel, the more you have identified with this perspective. How much of this perspective is naturally yours, and how much of this perspective have you formed to make a life role fit in its environment?
Remember the art is to enhance your career, life, and leisure roles, not to discard them. Do not depend on your roles for feeling good, feeling good comes from your strong self, the authentic deeper naturally inclined sense of self. Enjoy your roles from there, let the external joy be the oil on your own fire, so life is hotter and lighter altogether.
Know that alone, you are perspective, with others you are reality.
Know that people behave according to their perspective, regardless whether this perspective is mostly their natural perspective or their role-perspective. It is totally irrelevant to understand this in another person as there are many factors that influence how a person behaves. While in love relationships it is useful to know your partner’s deeper values and preferences, it remains pointless to know what behaviour in others is more role driven, and what is more natural perspective driven.
There is one thing that is undeniable, though; people behave according to how things seem to them at and in the moment.
People Behave According to How Things Seem.
With ‘behaviour,’ I mean behaviour in the broadest sense of the word, behaviour in action and deed, as well as, ‘that’ which is communicated physically, kinaesthetically, intentionally, and unintentionally. However much people’s behaviour is a representation of their authentic natural perspective or their investment in, and dependence on, their roles, is not important. All you need to know is they respond according to how things seem to them. This will be according to their shared reality, that is why people from similar backgrounds and similar cultures living in similar times seem to respond in a similar way. A fairly safe rule of thumb, should you not discard that individual perspectives may differ, and create a tipping point that shifts the group’s response.
Remember that your roles change as new people or new circumstances are present. Change happens gradually, step by step, imperceptible, and appears suddenly. Be ready for that at all times because gradual change is imperceptible until it reaches the tipping point. Then it appears, from our point of view, suddenly. All of a sudden the grass of your lawn appears too long. That did not happen overnight, it simply passed a tipping point. Now it seems too long to you, sparking a response. You go out and mow the lawn, or ask someone to do it for you. Your behaviour is driven by how things seem to you.
Your child all of a sudden seems to have a more grown up perspective and opinion. Guess what, that didn’t happen overnight. It just seems different from your perspective because you observed your child differently. So you adapt your behaviour accordingly. Same counts for people in general, all of a sudden a person or a group appears different to you. You got it, that didn’t happen overnight either.
Whether you are a leader or an individual in a group, if you desire change and aspire change you have to remember the golden rule: People respond better to ‘why you do’ things than to ‘what you are doing.’ Remember we build our shared realities with more than words. It is the intention, the deeper preferences, values, and instincts that we perceive in the communication of others. Simply being in the same space allows us to sense each other’s presence like this.
From a natural perspective; it is how we feel about things that drive our behaviour. This is fundamental biology, not psychology. Our newest part of the brain in evolutionary terms is the neocortex. It is this part of the brain, which interestingly enough is the outer part of the brain physically, that is responsible for our rational and analytical thought and language. The inner part of the brain, our limbic brain, is responsible for all our feelings like trust and loyalty. It drives our behaviour, all decision making, and it has no capacity for language. Hence people respond to why you do things and not what you do. The ‘why’ is something that people sense and feel. When this value-driven intent is similar to our natural preferences and values we experience a sense of trust and loyalty.
From an evolutionary perspective, it is this type of environment which makes survival and thriving more likely. This is why ‘how people feel about things’ determines decision making and behaviour. All the reasoning, facts and figures will not motivate people to buy into what you represent. It has to feel right, because our limbic brain responds like that, without words, without analytics. People make decisions that seem to contradict their own analysed rational thought. Simply because it does not feel right. The gut feeling. The instinct. The reason why you do things is driven by your natural self, your deeper authentic strong essence (that which makes you, you; that which does not depend on others for being what it is).
People respond to how things seem to them, and respond mostly to ‘why’ you do things, and not to ‘what’ you do. So if you aspire change, come from the authentic natural strong essence of self. Align your words with the instinctive communication of feelings and vibes, the energy you radiate. Communicate WHY you are saying what you are saying, WHY you are doing what you are doing, and WHY you are feeling what you are feeling.
In other words; show up in your roles as your natural self, circumstance permitting. If you are a leader then show up completely, and if your role’s circumstances are somewhat more limited, show up to the degree deemed possible.
In personal relationships, you will have much more bandwidth for obeying your natural instincts than in any professional context – unless you are the chief, chair, and core of the organisation of course. Human beings have a strong sense of what a person communicates, and equally what they do not. The more you align your communication with your natural perspective, the deeper the impact you have on the reality shared with other people.
People behave according to how things seem. People also do not notice change. Change happens imperceptibly, gradually, then appears suddenly. So, do not expect results of your change suddenly, the outside world is blind to it – remember the inattentional blindness gorilla? (Youtube search if you don’t). The world is blind to your change in communication, intention and aspirations until the shared reality reaches the tipping point from their perspective. Only then there will be a change in their behaviour: because people act according to how things seem.