How to Understand Someone Else’s Point of View

When we take on the perspective of someone else, a whole network of brain regions become activated. The dorsomedial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices, the temporoparietal junction and precuneus. These areas are responsible for memory, attention, social cognition, integration and mental imagery.

I find when I stand in someone else’s shoes, that I immediately feel more empathy towards them. I am able to see more of our similarities and I start to feel closer to the person.

Shifting our perspective can be difficult because we have often provided ourselves with a lifetime of evidence to support our view. Often our views are also based on moral codes, which if challenged, feel as though they are cutting to the very core of who we are in the world, of what we stand for.

Some steps to gain more perspective:

  1. First acknowledge that you have a strong view about a certain topic. It is okay to feel deeply about things. 
  2. Think about the topic from the other person’s perspective. 
    1. Why might they think this way?
    2. How do they see the world and the topic? 
    3. How do you think they feel about the topic?
    4. Listen to other people speak who have a similar view to them.
    5. What are their intentions?
  3. Return to your own view and notice any changes.

Staying open-minded is a practice, and a wonderful leadership skill to cultivate. 

What do you do to stay open-minded?