215. How not to win friends and influence people.

A friend called the other day to remind me of the importance of The Habit of Checking Your Perspective.

The lesson was brought home to him recently when he and his wife joined two other couples for dinner.

The evening was pleasant, the meal delicious and the conversation friendly until the discussion turned to that most Canadian of topics – hockey.

The debate centered around who deserves the honour of being the greatest Canadian hockey player of all time and it took no time at all for tempers to flare.

Now you would think six adults could calmly discuss the pros and cons, the strengths and weaknesses and the highlights and disappointments of hockey players, past and present, while enjoying each other’s company and adding to the overall satisfaction of the evening.

Sadly, that was not the case. My friend said that after a few moments he and his wife sat back in open mouthed disbelief as the other two males shifted from friendly disagreement to anger, then yelling and finally flinging insults while their wives implored them to cut it out.

The home they were at belonged to one of the two feuding couples and it didn’t take long before the non-resident husband pushed his chair back and stormed out of the house somehow forgetting that he had left his wife behind.

His wife, clearly embarrassed by his puerile behaviour, announced that she would call a cab for a ride home but, would they mind if she stayed a little while and she was in no hurry to go home?

Meanwhile, the host-husband took the opportunity to announce that he was right all along and pointed to his visitor’s departure as proof positive that he was by far the most hockey knowledgeable person at the table.

He then turned to my friend and asked if he agreed.

My friend made the mistake of attempting to explain that neither of them were wrong nor right, that they will both merely expressing their opinions and that neither could produce irrefutable, indisputable facts to prove their point.

Big mistake.

The host saw this yet another challenge of his knowledge superiority and began questioning my friend’s intelligence. My friend refused to be drawn into the debate and before he could further present his thoughts on the role of perspective in our every waking moment, their hostess announced that she and my friend’s wife were going to going to the living room to have an intelligent conversation as far away from morons as possible.

My friend has long practiced The Habit of Checking Your Perspective. He is a strong advocate for its efficacy and, in fact, frequently uses The Habit of Checking Your Perspective as a means of bringing opposing sides together during his work as a Conflict Resolution Specialist and Mediator.

His story illustrates the need for us all to lean on The Habit of Checking Your Perspective whenever others present viewpoints that differ from our own.

This habit reminds us that relative to the number of opinions we have, there are very few facts available to irrefutably and indisputably prove either side of most arguments. We are best served when we take time to understand those opposing viewpoints and realize that they are as true and factual to those presenting them as our viewpoints are to us.

Our perspective is all we have at our disposal to make sense of the world. It places our unique frame around each belief and opinion we have and often deceives us into believing that these opinions and beliefs represent fact.

They seldom do.

The Habit of Checking Your Perspective enables and empowers us to respect and appreciate opposing viewpoints without necessarily compromising our own.

Many of my clients have reported on the immense positive impact adapting his simple strategy has had on their mental and, dare I say, physical well-being.

Let me help you to switch your focus from needing to be right to wanting to be better informed.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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