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The power of perspective is an amazing thing to me. We are all walking around seeing the world through our own lenses. Those lenses contain past hurts, pain, celebrations, victories and losses. The perspective we have is our own, influenced by all we have experienced in the past, stories we have heard from other people and any other genetic predispositions. If no two people are alike than neither are no two stories. Yet each day we go through life trying to convince others to see it our way, pretending the world is viewed through the same lens. Whether interacting with a co-worker, a spouse or a complete stranger it is vitally important that we remember we all have a different story.
I can remember years ago I was working as an office manager at a small real estate firm. There were less than 5 people working there (all men) and I was responsible for running the office and being the right hand of the owner. The office was a very close knit, we frequently ate lunches together, had lots of inside jokes and to be honest we were a tough group to join. Not surprisingly, when we hired a new receptionist she had a tough time fitting in. She was quiet and it seemed she was simply looking to do her job, and go home. She didn’t want to interact and play our ‘reindeer games’. At least that was my perspective. I assumed she was happy doing her job, eating her lunch by herself and leaving the gregarious frivolity to me and the other guys that worked there.
Later after she turned in her notice I learned that she did want more she just didn’t know how to go interact and break through the barrier into our inner circle. In her resignation letter she referred to me as the “Queen of the Office” and that she could never compete with me and my relationship with the guys. I remember feeling shocked and disappointed that I had mis-read her so poorly. She wasn’t choosing to be anti-social she just didn’t know any other way and we were a tough crowd. I spent many days feeling that I had let her down and not taken good care of her.
I learned a lot from that situation. You never know how someone is truly feeling or what they are thinking. People see the world through their own lenses. Had I been more curious, more open to how she might have felt coming into a small close knit office community as a quiet introverted female, it might have gone differently. On the other hand, I learned I can’t take care of everybody. I spent a lot of energy the weeks after she left feeling badly about how she left. Yes, I should have tried to see the world through her lenses and not assumed so much about her behavior. I could have done to help her feel in more included, I could have pushed harder and invited her more often. I wish I would have had more curiosity about where she was coming from and what her story was. AND she was also responsible for her actions and feelings. She was responsible for expressing her frustration and sharing her needs.
We all have a story a unique perspective that includes all of our wants and needs. It is our own responsibility to share that story as needed, explain our perspective and ‘play nice with others’. It is also our responsibility to remember everyone has a unique view of the world and rather than try to change that world view—let’s start having some curiosity about the stories. If we would all pay attention to our stories and listen to others–I believe the world would be a better place.