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May be we don’t have to trash the 2020 Vision mantra. Coronavirus took us off course but, now may be the perfect time to change your perspective on your life and how you see the world.

Earlier this year I was at the eye doctor getting my prescription adjusted. You know how that goes, you sit in the chair, the doctor pulls that big lens adjusting thing (I have no doubt that’s exactly what it’s called. ? Yes, I could have Googled it but, I didn’t) over for you to look through while he asks you to read each line. As you read the line, he is adjusting the lens to improve the focus. For me, it sounded like this, “Lauralee, which lens helps you see better, 1 or 2?”

That is what we use to look through life. Lens matters in how you see the world. We are adjusting our lens based on our own experiences and the more we experience the sharper our lens. And…. it is our own unique lens adjusted through our own unique experiences, no one else has our exact lens. Change your perspective and you open to endless possibilities.

Cognitive Empathy

How and where you are raised is the first layer of the lens in how you see the world. From the moment we are born every experience is just like the eye doctor adjusting the lens, it’s changing our perspective on how we see ourselves, how we see others, and how we see the larger world around us. Sadly, when our experiences are limited so is our lens. The more limited the viewpoint often less empathy for others a person will have. When we lack cognitive empathy, we don’t have the ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions.

This list is derived from my personal journey of increasing perspective taking, cognitive empathy, and expanding my own lens to which I look through each day.

5 Ways To Change Your Perspective

  1. Increase Your Experiences – expand your circle, the places you go, and your knowledge. Reading, traveling, changing careers, and/or employers, selecting a different college for graduate and undergraduate, or picking up a new hobby are all ways to increase your experiences.
  2. Travel The Road Less Traveled – traveling like a tourist will have a limited impact on how you perceive other communities, people, or nations. Explore the local culture, food, and people by taking the road less traveled. There’s a switch that flips when you go from saying “Why do they do that?” to “I wonder how we are the same and how we are different.”
  3. Curious – increase your curiosity in others. Be child-like in your curiosity about others, especially those people who are different from you or your beliefs. Be curious, not judgmental. As adults, we can hard-form our opinions and beliefs, which can shut down our ability to see from another’s point of view.
  4. Embrace Personality Tests – many people loath taking MTBI, DISC, Enneagram, or countless others. However, in my work and personal life, understanding how my mind works and compared to others has been a huge boost in team productivity. This has become part of the work with do with clients. Personality assessments are just another tool in the toolbelt of increasing empathy, productivity, and team development.
  5. Be Introspective – introspection is the observation or examination of one’s own mental and emotional state, mental processes, etc.; the act of looking within oneself. Not only does being introspective make you a better person and leader, but it helps you pause to ask yourself tough questions.

Change Your Lens: Change How You See The World

To change your perspective and how you see the world does not mean you have to agree with every position. For example, I adore a person that thinks the Earth is flat. I do not think the Earth is flat. However, I also do not think he is crazy either. I think about what are the factors that influence his belief that the Earth is flat. I considered if I was in his shoes, with all the same levels of exposure, education and so on – is it possible that I might believe the Earth is flat. It is possible I suppose. I do not agree with his belief but, I’m sure curious about why he believes what he believes. I’ll reserve my judgment. We’re all judged enough; I don’t need to pile on.

Maybe today, we all need to expand our experiences and change our lens to improve our cognitive empathy.

Do you think social media is increasing our ability to empathize with others or decreasing our empathy?

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About The Author: Lauralee Hites

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I have more than a decade of experience in managing projects that reduce risk to organizations. Today, I operate a boutique consulting firm that specializes in Strategy and Management Consulting.

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