Perspective: Threat or Opportunity?

Perspective: Threat or Opportunity?

When working with pharmacies I communicate individually (and confidentially) with multiple staff. Inevitably, it goes like this… Take the hypothetical scenario that there is a workflow issue… Kate says, ‘The problem is Michael…he is the manager but doesn’t communicate what needs to be done so we don’t know what to do.’ Michael then says, ‘The problem is Khan! I’ve told him what to do but he doesn’t do it and that means everyone has to pick up his slack.’ Khan then says, ‘The problem is Kate…Kate thinks she knows how to fix the workflow but that confuses me because I don’t know who I should be listening to!’

It doesn’t matter whether there are two people or ten people. Guaranteed, everyone’s perspective of exactly the same situation will be slightly different. This happens because of one major reason…


Simply put, we all have a different viewpoint. Our viewpoint is formed by our values and beliefs about what we think is right and true. This is underpinned by our personality and also our workplace and social culture. Inevitably, what then arises is unconscious bias.

Think about it. If you get along with someone and think they are right, they likely have a similar viewpoint as yours which is formed by similar beliefs. If, however, you think someone is wrong, they likely have a different viewpoint from yours, formed by different beliefs. Without awareness, these beliefs then impact our behaviour, what we say, how we say it and who we say it to. The result is then that it has a snowball effect on the outcomes we achieve.

Broaden your pool of data

If we only ever consider situations from our perspective and never stop to think about what other perspectives may be among the team, we will inevitably experience friction. Friction causes a loss of trust and efficiency, two of the most valuable attributes a highly effective team requires. Additionally, limited thinking creates limited solutions. Expansive thinking creates opportunities.

So the question is, how do you more effectively mine for other’s perspectives?

1.      Ask more questions

Michael Bungay-Stainer said in his must-read book ‘The Coaching Habit’, ‘Stay curious a little longer and rush to advice a little more slowly.’ So often we want to give our opinion and rush to solution mode that we forget to gain more information. Questions like the ones below will be far more effective in encouraging others to share their viewpoint, creating a large amount of data to make decisions. If you start with advice, people will be reluctant to share what they see.

  • What is the real challenge here?
  • What do you see from your perspective?
  • What else could be an option?

2.      Don’t blame people

As much as you might think someone’s actions are to blame, starting the conversation by pointing that out isn’t going to help. Instead, use ‘I statements’ to own what you think or feel about a situation. In our scenario, Khan might say ‘I feel confused because I have been given conflicting advice. Can you help me understand the process here?’ as opposed to, ‘You both say different things and confuse me, that’s why I just do this way.’ The first option positions Khan on the same side of the problem as Michael and Kate, looking to find a solution together. The latter option sees Khan take no ownership of his role in the problem, placing him in immediate opposition to them.  

3.      Take time to know your colleagues

This doesn’t mean coffee dates or weekend retreats. It means knowing what they value, what they are driven by and what they need to function at their best. Remember, people act and form their beliefs on what they believe to be right and true. If you understand how they think, you will be able to more accurately see their perspective. A Global DISC-based Team Development Workshop is the optimal way to unpack this but if you want to start, jump over to this blog to learn more about how to practically do this and download a free set of game cards.

Don’t forget empathy

Empathy is the ability to accurately view a situation from someone else’s viewpoint. It doesn’t mean,  you need to change your own… We will inevitably see things differently from others and we will have disagreements. The answer isn’t always compromise. Meeting in the middle can often mean no one’s needs are met. The true power in a team comes from accepting that people will have different perspectives to you and they may not make sense. Regardless, you respect it, focus on the outcome you’re all trying to achieve and head there anyway. This is the true meaning of inclusion and the fastest way to problem solve.

Are you ready to improve communication, trust and efficiency?

Book an obligation-free appointment here.

Never miss a thing. Get tools, tips and offers delivered direct to your inbox.
Sharing is caring...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *