Sometimes our need for a different point of view is evident. We find ourselves stuck, frustrated, feeling ourselves struggling to move forward.
Sometimes we’re oblivious to the need. We are enjoying a sense of momentum and reveling in what seems like real progress. We just aren’t aware that we are heading down the wrong path or losing the support of others along the way.
Obvious or oblivious… there is (almost) always something to gain from engaging people who are willing to share fresh perspectives and who are not afraid to challenge our thinking.
Feeling ready to open your mind? It’s important to choose your thought partner wisely. Look for someone who:
you know looks at things differently than you do;
can look at things with a fresh set of eyes;
has different life experiences, beliefs, values, priorities or logic;
can help you with your blind spots;
you believe can enlighten you;
you know is not afraid to challenge you;
will encourage you to push through challenges.
Sometimes I enjoy soaking up different points of view. I feel hungry for creative thinking and ideas that will challenge me. My mind is open, by defenses are down, my curiosity is strong. But that’s certainly not always the case for me…and I doubt that it is for you.
There are times when I struggle to take in challenging points of view. I find myself getting defensive instead of staying curious. I feel myself begin to shut down…to stop listening, or worse, to stop caring. There is just nothing good about this scenario.
Feel yourself heading down this path? Time to hit your “reset button.”
Pull the plug on your defensive energy;
Tap into your curiosity;
Embrace the challenge, even if it’s feedback you’re not enjoying in the moment;
Remember that you don’t have to agree… you just need to listen and absorb.
Are you still struggling?
You may need to ask your thought partner to give you a minute to digest what they’ve shared. Use this time to reset your thinking and to remind yourself how important it is for people to feel safe in sharing their point of view with you. Remember, someone who feels shut down now may later withhold valuable feedback and perspectives just when you need them most.
I said, “there is (almost) always something to gain from getting a different point of view…” Yes, I do believe there are exceptions.
Here are situations to avoid:
You just aren’t ready to take it in. In this situation, it’s better to let your thought partner know that now is not the right time…and invite them to hold onto their ideas for a better time.
You only want to hear from people who agree with you. If that’s where you are at the moment, then you’re not only wasting your time you’re wasting the time of others. You are also robbing yourself of a huge opportunity to grow.
You are talking with someone who “knows everything.” Some people feel that they have all the answers and have a deep-seated need to convince others to agree with them. This type isn’t a great thought partner. I either try to avoid these conversations or to end them quickly with a polite, “thank you for sharing.”
Sometimes all we need is a break from the challenge at hand.
My brain processes things a little differently when viewing the world from atop my motorcycle or from the peak of a trail than from behind my desk. Don’t be afraid to set something aside for a few minutes, a few hours or even a few days, if necessary, to allow yourself to gain a fresh perspective.
Not sure where to turn? Here are some ideas:
Enjoy a TED Talk – one that takes you far from what you’re struggling with;
Take a walk, go on a hike, do a little yoga – even light exercise helps a lot;
Call a friend – just to catch up, not to discuss the issue;
Draw something – it doesn’t matter if you “can’t draw” … let go and doodle;
Read – a blog, magazine, short story, cartoon – anything to break the cycle.
Of course, sometimes what we need is to get back to work. Guess I better get back to it.
Enjoy the view!