Keys to an Effective Relationship – Part III

imagesIs this dress blue and black or white and gold?

Scottish musician Caitlin McNeill posted a picture on her micro-blogging website with a caption – “Is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can’t agree and we are freaking out!”

The post went viral after BuzzFeed picked it up – it sparked a heated global debate. We all got exposed to this craziness in our national news. Really?!? Wow!

This is a great example of how our perspectives can skew our thinking and ability to be open minded. As I read numerous articles about the incident, I noted all discussions were focused around an individual’s thoughts regarding how they felt – not around a dialogue on why someone else thought the dress looked a different color.

images-3We’ve all developed a lens in which we view life. We interpret what others are saying or doing through our own set of past experiences, our culture, values, and beliefs about others, ourselves, and our world. Our minds are constantly making sense of our own world – forming opinions and judgments during every interaction.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” – Anais Nin

Picture yourself standing high on a mountaintop or flying in a plane. From this vantage point we can see things from a wider and less detailed perspective. It can be a varied and interesting perspective to help us understand more of the big picture. The same happens when we use Google Earth. We can zoom from our home’s street view to the view of our city, state, and country with just the click of a mouse. So how can we take the vantage point of being high on a mountain or using Google Earth to help understand another person’s perspective?

images-2We need to first seek to understand then to be understood; it’s Dr. Stephen Covey’s Habit 5. Do you remember this picture in his book?  It was an exercise to uncover if we see both the young beautiful lady as well as the old lady with a large nose and chin.

To understand another’s perspective, we need to understand why a person is thinking and behaving the way they are. What’s the best way to do this? Practice Channel 2 listening and asking questions. This gains clarity so we may obtain the vantage point of the other person’s perspective; to enter into their paradigm.


To be clear, we aren’t looking to release our own perspective and understanding, this practice is to enhance our own perspective by adding another’s viewpoint. When we can understand the thoughts and actions of another and we can feel their motives within us we can start to understand their perspective. Feeling their motives doesn’t mean we agree with them but we now have greater clarity on their perspective.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

Here’s a way in which we can help ourselves learn to understand other’s perspective.

Practice the STOPP method:

S = Stop and step back

T = Take a breath – feel yourself take a deep slow breath

O = Observe – What am I thinking? Feeling? Is this fact or opinion? Is it accurate? Helpful?

P = Pull back and put in perspective – Is there another way of looking at this? What would someone else see here? What is the Google Earth view? What meaning am I giving this interaction to incite this reaction? How important is this right now? In the future?

P = Practice what works – Lean on your values and beliefs. What is proportional with this interaction? What could the consequences of my communication and actions be? What is best for me? What is best for the relationship?

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius

Sometimes we need to remember put ourselves in another person’s shoes; remember that their background and experiences, which are different then ours, affect their perspectives.  We can also follow the modified golden rule – treat others the way they want to be treated.

Taking another’s perspective means trying to see things from their point of view. When we are willing and able to see things from another’s perspective, we can learn things we didn’t know before. These practices show a deep admiration and respect and they help to deepen the relationship.


Channel 2 Listening

images-1Have you ever wondered what the differences are between hearing and listening? For me hearing is a biological act of ensuring safety. We hear the sound of our dog barking which alerts us to a stranger at the door. The honking car alerts us to look out!  We hear the tick of the clock, the hum of the dishwasher but we quickly stop listening because we label it as noise. Hearing is performed mostly in our sub-conscious.

When we listen we engage our brain to connect with others; we are able to obtain a deeper understanding of another’s views, values, thoughts, and dreams. When we actively listen, we tap into our senses; we can feel, see, and at times taste what the other person is sharing. You know what I mean…your mouth waters when someone shares a detailed story about a great sounding meal.

Listening is a conscience effort that takes focus and hard work but the payoff is immeasurable!!!

imagesThere is an analogy called channel 1 and channel 2 listening which helps us to understand the power of deep listening.

Channel 1 listening is when we listen to respond – I’ve also heard it called STAN listening (Sh*t, That, Ain’t Nothin’!)  Most of us practice channel one listening within our career and our relationships. We listen so that we can tell our own story, perspective, or opinion. We all know people who when we are done speaking they share a bigger more inflated story to trump ours.

Channel 2 listening is very different from channel 1 listening. Channel 2 is empathic listening.

Did you know that 55% of our communication is conveyed through our body language, 38% through the tone of our voice, and only 7% of communication is the actual words we speak. That means that 93% of all communication is exchanged non-verbally! The first time I heard these stats I thought to myself so that’s why Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus! 🙂 If we aren’t good at reading these queues we may be missing some of the intended message. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.

images-2Channel 2 listening is the ability to consciously be aware of our own bias’ and judgments; to be present by mentally removing distractions around us. It is maintaining eye contact, keeping an open mind, and not jump to conclusions as someone is talking. It is also the ability to maintain a curious mindset so our questions can continue dialogue and deepen our understanding of what the other person is intending to convey.

One of the most sincere forms of respect a person can give is to actually listen to what another person has to say.  I believe this is true.

Join me in giving the gift of channel 2 conscience listening with every interaction.