Throughout our lives, we’ll find plenty of supposed absolutes — for example, that lush, flourishing grass is green.
If you learn to take on new perspectives, you’ll know that there’s more than what meets the eye. So, what does perspective-taking involve?
It means having everyday realizations.
When people talk about perspective in everyday conversation, they usually refer to how something is imagined or understood. It is often influenced by an individual’s values, beliefs, and opinions. Our perspective shapes how we see the world and how we react to the events happening around us.
Perspectives differ; what one person sees as a positive event may be a negative event to someone else. Learning to understand and empathize with others who view things differently is an important part of communication and collaboration. Whether we’re trying to find common ground with someone whose ideas seem to directly oppose ours, or we’re simply trying to gain a deeper understanding of a complex issue, perspective is key.
Let’s say that someone you know is color blind. Although there are many forms of color blindness, this typically means that red and green look the same to them.
To you, like most people, green represents growth and liveliness. To that person, however, it brings to mind the frustration they experience when trying to distinguish traffic lights meant to urge them to either stop or go.
If you’re a business owner, consider how friendly your online and offline visual environments are for the color blind. For instance, do you use color-coded signals whose meaning relies only on their color, rather than supplementing those colors with adequately-contrasting, unmistakable text or visuals? Is your business friendly toward neurodivergent people in general? If not, how can you make it more welcoming?
This is only the beginning of what perspective-taking means.
It means making inspiring artistic discoveries.
In art, perspective refers to the techniques creative people use to create the illusion of three-dimensional space on two-dimensional surfaces.
Linear perspective was re-popularized during the European Renaissance.
A groundbreaking technique for artists, linear perspective portrays how anything might seem to get smaller or larger depending on how far away it is from the viewer.
Aerial (Atmospheric) Perspective
Also rediscovered during the Renaissance, aerial perspective provides another way for artists to create a sense of depth and distance.
Generally, the further an object is from a viewer, the less detailed and bright it will appear. This is because atmospheric perspective occurs when light is scattered by particles of dust or smoke in the atmosphere. The scattering of light makes distant objects appear less distinct and less brilliant than objects that are closer.
Additionally, since the colors we see are just wavelengths of visible light reflected back by the objects around us, they generally appear less saturated the further away they become from any viewer.
Atmospheric perspective helps to convey strong moods or atmospheres, such as in artwork that depicts a cold, gloomy background or foggy landscape.
How Cubism Turned Perspective Inside-out
Cubism is an avant-garde art movement that was pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in the early 20th century. In more than one sense, cubist leaders found new perspectives by breaking from the traditional rules of perspective in art, which usually showed objects from a single viewpoint. Instead, Picasso and Braque began to experiment with multiple viewpoints, creating works that showed various sides of a scene simultaneously.
By challenging the conventions of perspective that had been established for centuries, Picasso and Braque created more expressive and dynamic compositions. As a result, cubism had a profound impact on the development of modern art, and its legacy can still be seen in the work of contemporary artists.
Is there a long-accepted business practice in your industry that you’ve found to be lacking in any way? You may be tempted to view it as an unfortunate obstacle. Why not?
This process can likely be transformed to become more efficient and customer-focused, and who would be a better person to change it — or at least become vocal about how and why it should change — than someone who understands its current drawbacks?
But of course, before you begin making or suggesting changes, you’ll need to gather as many perspectives from others as you can, whether they’re coworkers, customers, or even people in the general public.
It means expanding your narration styles.
In literature, point of view is the mode of narration that an author employs to let the readers “hear” and “see” what takes place in written content. Point of view is most often categorized into three different types: a first person point of view, third person point of view, and omniscient point of view. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
- In first person point of view, a story is narrated by one of its characters. The advantage of this point of view is that it allows readers to feel closer to the protagonist and understand his or her thoughts and feelings. However, because readers only know what the protagonist knows, they may not have all the information about other characters or events taking place in the story.
- A story told from third person point of view is narrated by an entity that is not a character in the story. It allows readers to have a more objective perspective on events taking place in the story. However, because readers do not know what any particular character is thinking or feeling, they may have difficulty empathizing with them.
- Omniscient point of view enables the narrator to know everything about all characters and events taking place in the story. This point of view can provide readers with plenty of information, but it can also make the story feel less personal.
Point of view can also be objective or subjective.
- Authors who write objectively remain neutral and don’t share their own opinions or feelings.
- Those with subjective points of view speak about their own opinions and feelings.
Each of these writing methods clearly has its own advantages and disadvantages. As a reader, you will have to decide which point of view you prefer in order to get the most out of a story.
Along with keeping a generally open mind to what others are thinking and feeling, it’s important to consider point of view when planning written content so that readers can understand the information in the way you intend.
It means the ability to make worthwhile changes.
Seeing from different perspectives — figuratively or literally — can make us aware of new, beneficial ideas and ways of thinking. It can help us to understand and empathize with others, even those who are very different from us. It can also challenge our assumptions and help us to question our own beliefs. Seeing from multiple perspectives can be enriching, enlightening, and even life-changing.
Research has found taking on new perspectives to be related to altruistic behaviors such as helping and sharing. It has also been linked to problem-solving ability and creativity. Despite its clear benefits, seeing from another perspective can be difficult to master. Nevertheless, it is worth the effort, whether you do it by starting conversations with people from different walks of life or thinking about how someone else would feel in a given situation.
With practice, perspective-taking can become automatic and may even lead to lasting changes in attitudes and beliefs. By making the effort to develop this skill, we can become more understanding, compassionate, and open-minded people.