#1 sure-fire way to change your perspective.


There is an old saying:

“You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”

A simple tool I use for helping clients understand an issue is to help them see things from a different perspective: to swap shoes!

Here are three examples:

Performance Management:

When tackling a performance management issue, think about how you are going to deal with tackling the person involved. The room you will use, where you and they will sit, what you will say, and how you will say it.

Exercise: Do a trail run followed by placing yourself in the seat of the person you are tackling and rerunning the process so that you are now on the receiving end. This ensures that you have an idea about how you will be received. Are you happy with the approach?

What did you learn?

Self-esteem.

Try listening to the things that you say to yourself; the judgements, the self-imposed rules and expectations. Are you assessing yourself only in black and white terms and forgetting the grey?

Exercise: Sit yourself down and imagine that your best friend is sat in front of you – or invite your best friend to sit in front of you. Repeat all of the things that you say to yourself to your best friend. Can you? How do they react?

What did you learn?

Effective communication.

I adore this exercise. I use it regularly in my parent and teens, and couples coaching programmes. How do you know if you are being heard or that you are actively listening?

Exercise: For teenager and parent. I get the parent to try to talk to the teenager whist the teenager is on their mobile, on their laptop, trying to deal with other family members, and cooking a meal. The usual things that working parents do. Try and understand from your teenager’s perspective how easy or difficult it is to find a window in your busy schedule within which they can make contact with you and be heard.

Then I reverse the situation and get the parent to put in headphones, turn their music up loud, present a “closed” posture and then ask the teenager to try and hold a meaningful conversation with them or at least gain their attention.

What do you think they discovered?

Exercise: For couples.

I use a combination of the above two exercises. We all have lives to live, we are all busy, busy, busy. Whether it’s juggling the demands of a career, caring for kids or elderly parents, managing our finances, maintenance of our homes, our own health, etc, etc, etc.

If you are the partner in the relationship who is struggling to communicate with the other partner, set some time aside where you can both get together – which you will if you value your relationship. Then you assume the role of your partner and demonstrate exactly what happens when you try to communicate them with. This enables you to demonstrate your perspective of your communication issue with your partner. This is especially effective if you find it difficult to articulate your issue. It places your partner in a position to clearly see things from your perspective.

What did you learn?

All of these exercises are about changing your shoes to gain a different perspective and a greater understanding.

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If you need some help trying on different shoes, contact me.