Shifting Perspectives

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“That’s one way of looking at it”  Getting yourself out of “stuckness” in the workplace.

Have you found yourself being stuck in a relationship with your boss or colleagues?  Or stuck in a job you no longer enjoy? You hear yourself saying  “well that’s the way it is”, “ that’s the way he/she is”, “I can’t because ….” “that’s reality” or “I wanted this promotion so….”

The stuckness can bring up emotions such as frustration, resentment, anger, despondency and you end up feeling powerless and that you don’t have a choice.

This in turn can be destructive in your work relationships and ultimately your career, if the pattern repeats itself. You end up going nowhere fast!

WHAT IF you could develop the ability to see a situation not just through the lens of your own viewpoint, but also from the perspective of colleagues, boss, spouse or prospective employer? What could be possible?

The dictionary defines perspective as a “mental view of the relationship of aspects of a subject to each other and to a whole” and “an idea of the relative importance of things”.     More simply a perspective is “how we view a situation or circumstance”. The circumstance or situation remains the same it is the way we look at things that makes a difference.

Here is a familiar, general example ”Blondes have more fun”. Notice our tendency to take a stand, as if it is true or false. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is, if you take this on as a belief, or a way of looking at life situations, things are coloured in a certain way. If you’re blonde, you probably expect to have more fun. If you’re not a blonde you’re either wishing you were one, lamenting your bad fortune, or coming up with an alternative perspective that lets you have fun too!

Coaching can help you to separate yourself from the people and situations in your lives, and even from your beliefs and assumptions.  A coach can help break open this blindness and help you see that there are other ways of looking at things and that you really do make the choices, even on days when it feels like the world is running the show.

See below some examples of “seeing it one way”. Notice that there may be some truth in the following statements, just as there is some truth in alternative perspectives, but they are not the absolute truth, just one way of looking at a situation.

“Everybody knows that, if you work in corporations, you have to be a team player. You have to sacrifice yourself for the good of the team”

“Either you’re committed to your career or you’re committed to being in a relationship. You can’t have both successfully”

“I’m a freelance designer. I can’t turn work down – not from my best clients”

A coach can challenge these long held “absolute truths” and help you to shift your perspective by asking questions to identify your current perspective. A coach can help you to also articulate other people’s views or other filters through which you might look at the situation.

Here are some sample questions you can ask yourself on a situation you are stuck in.

If you were X (the other person in the situation), what would you want/feel/need/say?

If you were advising yourself, what would you suggest for getting unstuck?

If you weren’t stuck what would you do right now? 

If you didn’t blame X, what else might be possible? 

If that weren’t true, what else could it be? 

Remember there is ALWAYS more than one way of looking at our situation/circumstances.  We are not the victims of our circumstances. We can choose differently, and the first step is to shift our perspective and start living creatively again, making conscious choices.

As Henry Ford said “If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.”

With help to get from “Stuck to unstuck” in your career, contact a Career or Business Coach


Written by Fiona Biggins – Career Coach