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queenzboulevard's avatar

How good are you at seeing things from someone else's perspective?

Asked by queenzboulevard (2549points) December 20th, 2008

Everyone chooses sides on controversial issues. Everyone has their own belief system.

Can you understand why the other person believes different from you? Or are they wrong and you’re right, because you know more than they do about it?

Examples: “Yeah I can see why you think God doesn’t exist.”
“So you think all women shouldn’t have the right to choose? That makes sense to me.”

Are you able to do this, or can you just not understand how someone can think the way they do?

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16 Answers

tinyvamp's avatar

oh my!

I get in a lot of trouble for this because if someone is arguing I try to present each other’s points so they understand where each individual is coming from… it doesn’t work out so well because they end up getting mad at me because there is no grey there is only black and white.

Judi's avatar

Yep. It gets me in trouble too. Especially when I’m stuck in the middle between my hubby and kids. Everyone thinks I’m on the other persons side because I’m trying to get them to see the other persons point of view.

nocountry2's avatar

I would like to think I am pretty good at this, at least I make a conscious effort to do so. Sometimes it comes belatedly, for example today when the mother of my stepdaughter was being difficult, suddenly it occurred to me just how extra-precious her daughter is to her (she, the mother, was adopted) and how I might be selfish in my judgements of her. I guess my problem arises when I feel like I am trying my best to put myself in the other person’s shoes or consider their perspective, but they won’t do the same for me. Then I feel like what’s the point of being mature if the other person won’t and you end up getting taken advantage of.

bythebay's avatar

I try, I really do. Because I think everyone deserves to be heard, and also because as cliché as it is, your perception is your reality. There is no way we can ever understand exactly where the other person is coming from, but I try. I do agree with nocountry, if the other person isn’t able to afford me the same courtesy, impatience and snark will spew forth from my mouth. I also have very little patience when someone has an agenda but won’t readily admit it.

buster's avatar

Im trying to see things from your point of view but I can’t get my head that far up my ass.

delirium's avatar

My mother used to constantly tell me to put myself in another person’s shoes. As a kid, this was just a frustrating mantra (akin to ‘if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?’). One day, however, it clicked. Something settled in to place and this magical ability to feel what other people are feeling appeared. I remember it very vividly.

I now use it constantly, and it is what makes me strong in debate and therapeutic in conversation.

augustlan's avatar

I think I have an innate sense of empathy, and can usually see where the other person is coming from. Sometimes though, they are so thick-headed that all I can see is stubborness and stupidity!

jessturtle23's avatar

I really try to because I feel that it is a good personality trait and otherwise I would be pissed off half the time. Sometimes I don’t half to try because someone enlightens me about something I really had never heard a side from. For example, when I was younger I thought that kids that went into the military were dumb asses. I had to deal with Navy squids on a daily basis because of my location and couldn’t stand them. Now that I have become friends with some of them over the years I totally understand where they are coming from. It’s not such a black and white issue and I realized that I was the one being the closed-minded dumb ass. I also didn’t like rednecks and hated the fact that I was born and raised in a country-ass state but in a few minutes I am about to go to a really country bar and have a cold beer and listen to people try to sing karaoke. I may even do some Queen. I may even sing the Humpty Dance if I feel like it.

wundayatta's avatar

If you don’t try to gather the information that allows you to understand another’s point of view, you can’ talk to them. I see this all the time. People are talking right past each other; sometimes yelling. I can see if they only took a moment to understand what the other person means when they use a word, they’d see they actually think the same thing.

However, people don’t know how to listen. They don’t know how to ask questions to gather the information they need. They are too impatient to define terms. So there are a lot of useless arguments.

I used to try to be empathetic, and I’d always ask people a lot of questions. I love people, and I suspect most people I talk to get that. But after I got mentally ill, something happened, and now my emotions are much closer to the surface. Even weirder, I can often identify people on the basis of a few short sentences, and sometimes just by watching them.

I guess this illness has made me more in tune with people, or more able to perceive things in people, and put them together so I understand them more quickly.

I’ve always thought it was important to listen and understand others. Now I have better tools to do so. Of course, that doesn’t always mean I do it. It’s really hard for me to understand Republicans or religious people. I try very hard, but the things they do make me so angry, because those things are so hurtful to people I care about. When an otherwise reasonable and nice person turns out to be a Republican, I just don’t get it. It’s just wrong. So it goes.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

although at first i am pretty stubborn on some things, i can usually see why someone would think something i don’t. i mean if you take into consideration the things that would make them believe that or feel that way, it’s hard to ignore that they do have justification for their beliefs.
but i don’t always admit it. and sometimes i do argue a hopeless cause just for the hell of it.

emilyrose's avatar

I do but admit that often I just think someone is misinformed if we disagree on something. Like political issues is a biggie on that one. I think if people really could see where I was coming from that they would agree with me.

susanc's avatar

I always used to believe I was really good at this because I advocate for it. And if someone can articulate what they think or believe, I can always, always work with it. What I’m very bad at is imagining what someone’s feelings are. If they don’t tell me, I’m oblivious.

MacBean's avatar

I’m another one who often ends up getting in trouble because of this. When debating, I can usually take a side that I don’t agree with and argue it easily. And I do because I think understanding the opposite side even if you don’t agree with it makes you understand your own side even better. But most people just don’t get that and end up angry at me.

delirium's avatar

Daloon: I can relate 100%.

Jack79's avatar

I think I’m pretty good at imagining what the other person believes, or even just accepting that they believe in something I cannot understand. I still get pissed off at some people though when they are not consistent.

Example: I met this religious girl once who said “I hate Jews but I like Jesus because he was Greek, so that’s ok”. Sorry, I can accept someone who believes Jesus existed just as easily as someone who believes he didn’t (or even the theory that he was a woman). But if he did exist, then he was definitely a Jew.

Incidentally I have this friend that can read your thoughts. Usually even before you think them. Spooky talent.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I usually can understand as long as their train of thought is logical. For people with a “that’s just what I think” explanation, I disregard anything they say.

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