Sometimes our need for a different point of view is obvious. We find ourselves stuck, frustrated…feeling ourselves struggling to move forward.

Sometimes we’re pretty oblivious to the need.  We are enjoying a sense of momentum and reveling in what feels like real progress.  We just aren’t aware that we are actually heading down the wrong path or losing the support of others along the way.

Obvious or oblivious… there is (almost) always something to gain
from engaging people who are willing to share fresh perspectives and who are not afraid to challenge our thinking.

Feeling ready to open your mind?  It’s important to choose your thought partner wisely.  Look for someone who…

  • you know looks at things differently than you do;
  • can look at things with a fresh set of eyes;
  • has different life experiences, beliefs, values, priorities or logic;
  • can help you with your blind spots;
  • you believe can enlighten you;
  • you know is not afraid to challenge you;
  • will encourage you to push through challenges.

Sometimes I truly enjoy soaking up different points of view.  I feel hungry for creative thinking and ideas that will really challenge me.  My mind is open, by defenses are down, my curiosity is strong. But that’s certainly not always the case for me…and I doubt that it is for you.

There are times when I struggle to take in challenging points of view. I find myself getting defensive instead of staying curious. I feel myself begin to shut down…to stop listening, or worse, to stop caring about what is being shared. There is just nothing good about this scenario.

Feel yourself heading down this path?  Time to hit your “reset button.”

  • Pull the plug on your defensive energy;
  • Tap into your curiosity;
  • Embrace being challenged…even if it’s feedback you’re not enjoying in the moment;
  • Remember that you don’t have to agree… you just have to listen and absorb;

ResetReally struggling?  You may need to ask your thought partner to give you a minute to digest what they’ve shared. Use this time to reset your thinking and to remind yourself how important it is for people to feel safe in sharing their point of view with you.  Remember, someone who feels shut down now may later withhold valuable feedback and perspectives just when you need them most.

I said, “there is (almost) always something to gain from getting a different point of view…”  Yes, I do believe there are exceptions.

Here are situations to avoid:

  • You just aren’t ready to take it in. In this situation it’s better to let your thought partner know that now is not a good time…and invite them to hold onto their ideas for a better time.
  • You really only want to hear from people who agree with you. If that’s where you are at the moment, then you’re not only wasting your time…you’re wasting the time of others. You are also robbing yourself of a huge opportunity to grow.
  • You are talking with someone who “knows everything.” There are some people who feel that they have all the answers…and who have a deep seated need to convince others to agree with them. This type really isn’t a great thought partner. I either try to avoid these conversations or to quickly end them with a polite, “thank you for sharing.”

Sometimes all we need is a break from what we’re struggling with. My brain definitely
processes things a little differently when viewing the world from atop my motorcycle or from the peak of a trail than from behind my desk.

Don’t be afraid to set something aside for a few minutes, a few hours or even a few days, if necessary, to allow yourself to gain a fresh perspective.  Not sure where to turn?  Here are some ideas:

  • Enjoy a TED Talk – one that takes you far from what you’re struggling with;
  • Take a walk, go on a hike, do a little yoga – even light exercise helps a lot;
  • Call a friend – just to catch up, not to discuss the issue;
  • Draw something – it doesn’t matter if you “can’t draw”… let go and doodle;
  • Read…anything – a blog, magazine, short story, cartoon…anything to break the cycle;

Of course, sometimes what we need is to get back to work.  Guess I better get back to it.

Enjoy the view!