Your point of view is formed over time by the experiences that you encounter from day-to-day.  Before you know it you may have forgotten about how another person, culture or class lives their life.  Our world is so diverse that even with the Internet, you are likely to never even know where many others garner their inspiration from.  And perspective doesn’t just relate to other people.  Animals live a life from their own unique perspective; plants grow under specific environments… there is always another way to look at life.  Let's expand on this…

At work you may be sitting in a business meeting and feel that your opinion has a higher value than your coworker’s does.  Often times if the other person feels strongly that they too are right, it may be best served to fully listen to where their idea comes from.  Ideas backed by passion are typically not unjustified.  Is this easier said than done in a negotiation setting?  Probably.  But just being aware of yourself while the conversation is occurring is a valiant start towards understanding.  I am typically in a disjointed balancing act with my inner voice during a heavy meeting:  Weighing out the importance of listening, choosing words for my part of the conversation, holding back ego, and just as important – looking for perspective.

In another setting you may be upset with someone you have to deal with daily.  You may feel that they have done something to offend you or bruised your ego.  The damaging effect of living with this anger is not just a waste of your time but hurtful to your continued relationship.  I recently put off a necessary conversation for several painful hours while I tried to cool off and formulate the right words.  Time seemed to come to a stop before I chose the most appropriate time to review the situation at hand.  Only to have the stress bubble pop within seconds of starting an open and honest conversation.  Their emotional explanation and perspective not only changed my view on what had happened but helped them move forward as well.

If you enjoy studying human interaction, philosophy, or life in general, you already know that one of the best instances to experience is an “aha moment”.  That time when you learn a life altering or perspective shifting lesson in an instant.  This week I stumbled upon one in an unexpected place.

A coworker let me know that through our company security cameras, they saw someone trespassing on the property and “doing something” near the employee entrance to the building.  Upon investigating I met a gentleman who had parked his trusty bike in the snow near the door and disassembled our plastic cigarette butt safety bin.  When I opened the door, he paused in the 10-degree weather and nodded his head in acknowledgement.  At the same time, he finished stuffing two big handfuls of expired cigarette butts into his tattered flannel jacket.  When asked what he was doing he stated that he was collecting used cigarette butts so that he could combine the remaining tobacco for his own use.

My security guard type attitude immediately diffused and my perspective on social class shifted dramatically.  I thought that I was aware of the life that many less fortunate than me may be living through intermittent volunteering or working in a humble neighborhood.  I couldn’t have been further from the facts as it had never crossed my mind that someone would take the time to smoke used cigarettes.  Meeting this man reminded me that I am grateful for my life and fortunate to have a decent job.  It also taught me that perspective is both ever-changing and never 100% right.