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Emotionally Intelligent Minds Know How to Bridge the Perspective Gap

Inc. | Justin Bariso | Sep 17, 2021

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How can you negotiate effectively, persuade, and influence others? By connecting them to your feelings.

What's the perspective gap?

The perspective gap (also known as an empathy gap) is a common occurrence in which one dramatically underestimates the effects of a psychologically or physically intense situation.

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Usually, we think we understand a certain set of circumstances--even if we've never experienced them--but we really have no idea. Other times, we've actually experienced something similar to what another person is describing, but the way we remember handling the situation is much better than we actually did.

The perspective gap explains why physicians consistently miss the mark when attempting to estimate their patients' level of pain, or why we find it so challenging to put ourselves in the shoes of a colleague, or even a family member.

Here are two lessons:

Don't be like Ford. 

There are likely people at work right now who are trying hard to get you to understand the problems they're facing. They're trying to get your support.

It's easy to dismiss those people with expressions like:

Toughen up.

It's not that big of a deal.

You're making a mountain out of a molehill.

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If you want to build trust and stronger relationships...stop it.

Instead, bridge the gap. Try to see things from their perspective.

In other words, if it's important to them, make it important to you.

Be like Shelby.

But what if you're in the opposite situation?

What if you're trying to garner support from a colleague, your team (or even a family member)--and they're just not getting it?

Remember, even if they've gone through a similar experience to you (and especially if they haven't), they're not likely to empathize with you. There's going to be a perspective gap.

Instead of telling them the challenges your facing, help them to feel those challenges themselves.

Learning to bridge the perspective gap is how you build great teams, and companies.   It's how you learn to solve problems together.

You can do that by first identifying your own feelings: Are you frustrated? Angry? Disappointed? Sad?

Now, ask your colleague to describe a situation that makes them feel frustrated, angry, disappointed, or sad.

Now, you're helping them to connect, not to your situation...but to your feelings. You've helped them to relate.

You've helped them to build empathy.

If you can accomplish that, you'll have a partner whose invested. Your problem has become their problem.

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