Take a moment and answer the following question: Who is someone you know either from work or your personal life that is a “difficult” person? Do you have someone in mind? – Great – let’s move on…
Thinking of this person, consider just how difficult he or she really is. See how much this feels like the unequivocal truth. I can guess that you dread interacting with this person because it’s just a matter of time before their challenging nature rises to the surface and you become irritated or uncomfortable. I’m guessing you’re rarely disappointed by this expectation!
Have you ever considered that “the truth” around this person being “difficult” may only be your perspective?
Let me give you an example of another perspective. Take a moment to imagine this person as a loving, caring human being who’s doing the best that he or she can. Perhaps he or she is someone’s beloved child, someone’s loyal friend or the love of someone’s life. Maybe it’s a hard sell, but play along for a moment and really try to see this person from this viewpoint.
Imagine that underneath their actions and words is a loving, caring and perhaps even insecure person trying hard to meet their own or someone else’s expectations, doing the best they can to get by. Caring about you and others but often unable to show it as a result of what’s going on inside their own head and how they see themselves in the world.
Now…what if I told you that this new perspective of this person is the truth? Or, more accurately, what if I told you it could become the truth? You get to choose. There is no truth…only perspective – how you choose to see things.
Which perspective serves you better? The initial “difficult” perspective or the new “loving, caring, doing their best” one? From which one is there more potential for a smoother more productive relationship between the two of you? Does the new perspective open up the possibility that there may be room for a more positive, even completely different relationship between you? Does this soften you a bit toward them? Do you feel like you could cut them a bit of slack?
I invite you to try on this new perspective the next time you interact with this person. Have your words and actions reflect your new understanding and see what comes back at you. You may be pleasantly surprised at the person’s response. And even if they’re not ready to respond favorably, you will be more satisfied with the way you are showing up with them.
One of the real benefits people get out of leadership coaching is clarity around their initial perspective and then the opportunity to explore the truth from a number of different perspectives in a safe and confidential environment. Helping people to see issues and opportunities from a different perspective always provides a different path forward than the going-in position, e.g. “that person is impossible”! Where else in your life and your career is your initial perspective presenting you with more obstacles than opportunities?
Are you up for the challenge of shifting your perspective? I’d love to hear from you what happens as a result!