A Different Viewpoint
I’ll let you be the judge: Was this a smart-alecky, clueless student who was toying with his professor, or was he seeing through the futility of the exercise with a brilliant answer?
My assessment is that he understood the purpose of the professor’s challenge: What you see is what you get, or is it? Can you judge a book by its cover? Can you believe your lying eyes?
“It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time,” wrote Isaac Asimov in “I, Robot.” “People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”
I have no doubt that the chair existed. And I have no doubt that people can see things from a variety of perspectives. When you are in business, you need to remember that every day.
What you think is obvious, clear and easy to understand may be none of the above to a customer or co-worker. So many misunderstandings result from failing to see things through another’s eyes. The only way to fix that is to understand that perceptions, no matter how seemingly flawed, are reality to those who hold them. Your job is to work with those thoughts.
Listen To Learn
Yes, that’s a tall order. But ask any successful person how they have worked around a diversity of opinions, and you will likely discover that person has learned how to listen and apply what they hear.
Author and therapist Shannon L. Alder said: “Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, ‘What else could this mean?’”
Perspective dominates much of how we present ourselves and our products: Which attributes do we think will appeal to an audience? How do we perceive our customers? Will people see what we think they should see? Are we thinking broadly enough? Focus groups offer great perspectives on those questions and help shape the direction of ad campaigns and website design. Asking for another opinion is almost always a good idea. Pay attention, especially if you are trying to sell chairs, but your customers ask, “What chair?”