Abundant Optimism

Helping people regain and keep an optimistic outlook in challenging circumstances and improve their creativity, mind, and skills.

Improve the Mind with Another Point of View

By Tamara Martfeld

For many (all?) human beings, whatever needs done or solved is approached from the standpoint of that individualís background. For the most part this is good and works well. Using the knowledge and skills one has to approach problems, issues, and tasks will frequently provide acceptable results. However, every now and then something arises which needs a different approach. This becomes evident when the solutions being used are not working anymore, have never worked well, or when one cannot find a solution using their own resources. Approaching the situation from another point of view will frequently provide solutions, and training yourself to think from alternate points of view will help you be prepared for these situation as well as improve your thinking skills.

One option when you have reached the end of your resources is to hire an expert for help, and sometimes this is the safest option. For example, I know with my skills I can change an electrical light switch, but I know better than to try re-wiring a house. This option is also frequently costly and might be avoided if safety is not an issue. Sometimes all one needs to do is open the mind to other viewpoints.

For example, if you are trying to solve a problem and are out of ideas, pretend you are someone else and look for a solution from that individualís point of view. What would Albert Einstein think about the problem? How about Donald Trump, Debbie Reynolds, or Abraham Lincoln? In this list you have a scientist, a businessman, an actress, and a president who are all recognized as having done well in their fields. Each would approach the problem from a different viewpoint. To take this approach use your imagination. To enhance the exercise read autobiographies, biographies, and/or articles of the individuals to better understand their way of thinking. If available, you can listen to or read speeches the individual has given. You do not have to stick to famous people. You can use anyone who is not you. What would your mother do? How about Santa Clause or the woodland fairies? No, the person does not even have to be real.

Another option is to take the opposite side of the problem and try to approach it from that point of view. For example, if you were a store owner trying to stop theft you can take the point of view of the thief and try to think of ways to make the thiefís activities easier. Now that you know how to solve the opposite of what you want to do you may be able to find ways to solve your problem by turning the solutions around. For example, it would make the thiefís activities easier if you would just leave the door unlocked and not set an alarm. Now you can be sure to lock the door and set the alarm.

If you are still having trouble, talk and listen to the people around you. According to a biography I read about Walt Disney, he would talk about his work with just about everyone. If he was in a restaurant, he would speak to a server. One example was when he was trying to pinpoint why part of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyland did not seem right. A worker pointed out that there were no fireflies. Walt imported fireflies until they could figure out how to create imitation fireflies. According to the biography, Walt considered every personís opinions equally important regardless of their position in social status or their job. This is an excellent attitude especially if you are a leader in your field.

There is a bonus to training your mind to take another point of view. Once you are used to doing this it can become automatic (less effort to do) and help you when discussing things or trying to resolve conflicts with other people. If you can see and understand the point of view of an individual with whom you are having a discussion you can state that understanding and then start there to show the individual you point of view. You may also be able to see that what they are saying is correct (you are wrong) or be able to explain within their viewpoint why you are right. You may even be able to find a solution which works for both points of view since you are able to see both points of view. In any case you have a better chance of letting them know that you hear and understand what they are saying and increase the opportunity for a win-win solution.

Have a wonderful week-end!