East and west meet in the Movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. One of the characters loves India and the other does not. At one point the dissenting character asks the perfect question.
- What are you seeing that I’m not?
Most conflict happens between people who see the upside of one polarity and the downside of another. It’s easy to dismiss people who see the upside of the perspective you don’t embrace, and the downside of the one you do.
It’s more effective to ask about what they’re seeing that you’re missing.
Have you ever looked at a “Magic Eye” illustration? At first it looks like a bunch of odd images. Once you develop the “magic eye” you can see embedded three dimensional images. Before I developed my ability to see them, I was tempted to conclude that those who said they saw them were playing tricks on me.
Which brings us to the second PowerPhrase.
- How are you looking at it to see it that way?
My husband couldn’t see magic eye images either – until he received instructions about how.
A question of style
My husband and I have very different styles. For years, we were baffled by each other’s perspectives. Once we developed the habit of inquiring into embracing the other’s view, we started learning a lot about each other – and about what perspectives we were missing. Now, the same qualities that once seemed so baffling are the qualities we value most in each other.
In fact, as many people do, we went through stages of conflict to compromise. But once we became able to more readily see what the other saw, we also became able to more readily collaborate without compromise.
Style differences are often the result of favoring the upside of one style and dismissing the upside of another. Likeables and Visionaries see the beauty of being people-oriented and can miss the value of being task-oriented that Directives and Reflectives embrace. And visa versa. Visionaries and Directives see the value of speed and can miss the value of a more considered pace that Likeables and Reflectives embrace. You can explore your style here.
One perspective can complement another
It’s like the standard images where you can see one thing or another. Is the image on the right a face, or a vase? The answer, of course, is yes! And the most interesting thing about it, is the two images are interdependent. Take the faces away and there is no vase. Take the vase away and there are no faces. So if you see one aspect and someone else sees another, their view does not negate yours, it augments it.
When you find yourself on the opposite side of a polarity from someone, you can learn the most by shifting your perspective to see what they see. Only then will they be likely to be able to hear your concerns about the downside of the side they represent and the upside, or value of your perspective.
We can cling to one view or another, but the reality is much bigger than any of us see by ourselves. That’s why it takes all of us talking with each other to move forward.
But wait, there’s more. There comes a point where you cannot just see the face and the vase alternatively. You can see them simultaneously. Communication gets even more dynamic when you do.