Whenever we are asked what we think about something, we naturally think back to our experiences. Those experiences form our perspective on a topic and consequently, our answer when asked a question. Additionally, we tend to feel like our perspective is ‘the norm’ or ‘the mainstream’. We make assumptions and judgements based on that perspective. So, it is vital that we review and check our perspective – especially when interacting with other people. Their lives are not our lives. We may be in the mainstream or we may be in a sheltered environment. We need to bring this into the conscious and be able to check our assumptions, see someone else’s situation, respect it, and shift our view accordingly.
I had an opportunity last week to see this personally. I was called for jury duty. During jury selection, the prosecution and defense attorneys ask questions of the entire jury pool. These tend to be general questions and in this instance, the question was, ‘Do you believe it is wrong to drink any amount of alcohol and then drive a motor vehicle?’ Several potential jurors raised their hands indicating that they agreed. When the attorney asked why they had that belief, they all replied, ‘Well – there are so many options available.’
Their comment caught me – and I found myself saying silently – ‘So many options available for you.’ I knew what options they were thinking of – family, friends, Uber, etc. And several mentioned Uber or Lyft specifically. However, to use either of those requires an account be setup and a credit card provided and an app installed on a cell phone. In their perspective, this was always an option. But for someone else, if any of those items are available, the option isn’t available either.
The mischief comes when we believe there are options open to everyone and we then see someone who we believe is not using one of those options. Blame and judgement of the other person and their capabilities can be the result. In my jury situation, the defendant was assumed to be weak or stupid or someone who didn’t plan well and work out a designated driver ahead of time, or guilty. Imagine – assuming that someone is guilty because they didn’t use the options you believed were available.
As we move back to our new and updated work environments, it is an opportunity to look at how we want to work together going forward. Do we want to be more inclusive? If so, we need to review our perspective and check our thoughts. Whenever we find ourselves wanting to say ‘This is so easy’ or ‘There are so many options available’ – we need to tack on ‘for me’. Ji-Hai Park, a musician, said “Changing your perspectives will not only transform you but also the whole world.” Checking our perspective will help us remember that our situation and options may not be other people’s situation and options. It will broaden our view and we’ll be more open, inclusive, and accepting – definitely making it a better world.