The other person’s point of view

There are two things I always keep in mind when trying to understand the other person’s point of view.

The first is something my sister said about 10 years ago. We had just passed a very overweight woman in spandex and I must have said something not nice, because my sister said,

Hey, she might have just lost 40 pounds. She might be feeling really good about her body and proud of herself.

I have never again criticized anyone exercising or in work out clothes. But the real point is, I didn’t know her story. I couldn’t "see" her story by looking at her or through a casual conversation. Maybe I would have been proud of her too, and encouraging, if I’d known her story.

The second quote I keep in mind when trying to understand the other point of view is (and I don’t remember where it came from):

If I were you, I’d do everything you are doing.

If I were you, and I had the same genes, the same experiences, the same friends, I’d be making the same decisions you are. So to change your mind or to influence you, I have to show you or teach you something different. I have to figure out what I know makes me make a different decision than you. And it might not be something I know. It might be the fact that I have two kids and you don’t. Or you have a bunch of credit card debt and I don’t. But the point is we all basically make decisions the same way – we just have different criteria we are using to make those decisions.