Seeing the Other Side – Tips on Perspective Taking

Perspective taking is an important skill for couples. We feel heard, seen and understood when someone is able to see things from our point of view.

What is perspective taking?

Perspective taking is the ability to seek out understanding to see the world through another’s eyes. This skill uses our working memory, cognitive flexibility and ability to reflect.  We are attempting to understand someone’s viewpoint along with their understanding when we perspective take. When we practice perspective taking we build empathy, learn more about our partner, build respect for ours and others ideas and opinions, and be present in our interactions and communication.

What perspective taking is NOT

  • Perspective taking does not necessarily mean that we agree, it simply means that we are able to see where the other person is coming from.
  • Perspective taking does not mean we are attempting to determine who is right or wrong.
  • Perspective taking does not mean we are trying to convince the other person to agree with us.

How to practice

  1. Listen: Start with using your active listening skills. Listen to the other person and seek for understanding vs. seeking to respond.
  2. Recognize differences: Acknowledge that others will have different experiences, feelings, values, and knowledge than you.
  3. Understand influence: Understand that someone’s circumstances and experiences will impact the way they see the world
  4. Seek understanding: Ask curious questions to clarify and build your understanding of the person’s perspective until you have a sense of how you could relate
  5. Summarize: Summarize what you have heard from the other person to make sure you are hearing what they are trying to tell you. Allow them to clarify if needed.
  6. Relate and Empathize: Lean on your own past experiences and what you have learned while listening to see what parts of their perspective you may be able to empathize with.

Sources: psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-personal-narrative/201906/the-power-perspective-taking ; empatico.org/activity-plan/perspective-taking

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