According to one of the most well-known businessmen in history, understanding others is vital.

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.
Henry Ford

When so many adverts are telling us to concentrate on what we want and making sure we are paid what we are worth, this point of view may be surprising¬† This isn’t just the case with business, but in life too. The people who have the longest lasting happy relationships, the successful career, the loving family…all are based on understanding others. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with other people’s point of view or be a doormat. Just try and understand what life might look like to them.

Why understanding others is good for relationships

The¬†Crucial Conversation¬†research team recommend you follow the ABC–talk about what you agree on first, build trust and then compare and contrast your individual positions in a respectful way. I’ve learned this works by past experience. Understanding what we have in common makes both parties more willing to work together. By¬†listening and seeing things from the other’s perspective, we make it more likely that they will listen when we speak. By comparing and contrasting in a respectful way after we have taken the time to see things from each other’s perspective, mutual understanding is much more likely.

When it’s done back to front–starting with the view that my point is right and comparing the other’s point of view without really understanding it the reaction is not as effective, sometimes even damaging the relationship. Often the key turning point in a mediation is when someone ¬†can see the other person’s point of view.

Common Purpose¬†does a great job at helping leaders see things from a different point of view–not only does this make dialogue and problem solving more effective, but it creates more space for innovation.

Next time you have a challenge, step back and try and imagine what you would see if you were 20 years older or from a different culture. It might free up your creative talents. Ironically, being more tuned to how others see things makes you much more likely to be able to work with them and influence them.

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