Last week I shared that I did a radio interview a while ago, and one of the questions that the lovely host asked me was “If you had to do the elevator pitch for how to be successful in relationships, what would you say?”
As we know, femininity and relationships go hand in hand. We’re born relationship builders and communicators, and we have a large focus on our community and the relationships within it.
So when I answered the question I realised how important the answer was.
My answer was, “Love yourself, Be Yourself, Show Yourself and have an appreciation for the other point of view”.
Last week we covered the first three points in this statement (as well as one more)…and I promised that this week I would talk about the last point; having an appreciation for the other point of view.
Why is it important to see the other point of view?
In order to have really fulfilling relationships in any area of life, it’s important to be able to see things from the other person’s point of view. It makes communicating much easier, and allows us to appreciate where the other person is coming from.
The challenge is that this sometimes feels impossible when someone is very different to you!
As we go through life we have experiences that create within us various beliefs, ideas, thoughts and feelings, and when we experience things that happen we see them through our own unique perspective.
It’s a bit like we’re all wearing our very own brand of contact lens. You can’t actually see the lens itself when you’re wearing it, but when you look through them, they change the way that everything looks.
Not only that but we get to wear them without ever having to stick our fingers in our eyes!
Often we forget that everyone has their own individual contact lenses on. We assume that the way that we see things is the way that the rest of the world does.
What does the other point of view look like?
The thing to remember is that the contact lenses for each and every person on the plant are different. No two people will have the same ones, no matter how similar their experiences in life, because every person has had slightly different experiences, or seen things happen from a slightly different point of view.
When you realise that everyone has different lenses on, you have the ability to be able to see them and how they react to things in a different way. It’s like the lenses become glasses…you can see the fact that they’re there.
You can start to see that some people have rose tinted glasses, where things generally look great…other people have blue glasses, where things can often seem little depressing…some others where green glasses, seeing things with a tint of envy. There is a whole range of different glasses, each of them completely unique to the individual wearing them.
…and when you can see the fact that someone’s wearing their very own style of glasses, you can try them on from time to time and see if you can understand what situations look like to them.
How can I see the other point of view?
So what does this mean in the real world?
Take the example of dating. When a woman is getting ready for a date, she might be nervous, excited, hopeful. She’s probably wondering how the date will go, and from early on in the evening she will probably be looking at her date and trying to decide if the two of them are compatible.
Do I like him, do I like what he does for a living, do I like how he is with me, do I like where he’s taking me, does he make me laugh…? The list goes on. Generally speaking, she just wants to connect. To make a connection and see whether it has the potential to develop into something more or not.
What most women don’t tend to appreciate is that often the amount of pressure on a man going on a date is far higher than that on the woman.
Men tend to take responsibility for the success (or failure!) of a date, they want you to be happy and they want to be the ones responsible for making that happen. For the vast majority of the date most men will be thinking about what you might want or need, what might make you happy, and trying to anticipate that to make sure that you enjoy yourself. Having an appreciation for that can drastically change how you act on a date, and therefore how successful or unsuccessful it is.
If you know that he wants to make you happy, and you express to him how much you’re enjoying yourself, or how much you appreciate things he’s thought of or done, he’s likely to relax a lot more, which will mean you will be able to connect far better than you otherwise would have.
Another great example of this is in established relationships. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve seen or heard of a couple having an argument over whether or not the man in the relationship was listening to / ignoring / not paying attention to what the woman in the relationship was saying.
What a lot of women don’t know and appreciate is that mens brains actually work differently to ours. When most men are focusing on something (reading, watching television, deep in thought about work or a project) the parts of their brain that relate to hearing actually shut down.
This is because men were designed to be hunters…and when they were focusing on catching ‘dinner’ it was important that they didn’t get distracted, so those areas of the brain have designed to shut down. A lot of men when focusing on something are actually 70% deaf!
If a woman knows and can appreciate this, if she wants to have a conversation with him when he’s focused on something, she can learn that a touch of the arm, followed by eye contact and a question “there’s something I wanted to mention to you, do you have 5 minutes?” means that he’s aware of the conversation and can say “Yes, let’s talk now” or “Not right now, can you give me 10 minutes?”
The problem in most of these experiences is that the man is unaware that anything has even happened, and the woman thinks she’s being ignored!
An ability to see things from and appreciate the other person’s point of view can drastically improve how we communicate and relate to each other.
When there are challenges within the family, often it’s because we don’t take the time to try someone else’s glasses on and see it from their point of view. Looking at things through someone else’s glasses doesn’t mean that you need to agree with them…but being able to show and share that you can understand and appreciate where they’re coming from will make a big difference to your relationships…in every area of your life.
So this week I invite you to look through someone else’s glasses, and see how the experience changes things for them…and for you.