Growth Strategy #21: Perceptual Positions

Growth Strategy #21: Perceptual Positions

Seeing things from other people's perspectives is not always easy. No matter how similar someone may seem, we all have a unique model of the world that shapes the way we perceive things.

This popular neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) technique can assist you with experiencing how others see things.  I've also used it as a process to help clients understand different parts of themselves, or to connect with who they were in the past or desire to be in the future.

It's about imagining yourself in the shoes of someone else involved in a situation, by taking on an objective third-person perspective.

Good for: Seeing things from different perspectives in order to better understand a situation.

Best completed by: You; a trained practitioner

This exercise helps to increase empathy, which is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It is a fundamental human quality that allows us to feel compassion for others, and it is an important ingredient in any close relationship.

Empathy does not require that we have experienced the same thing as the other person; rather, it requires that we be able to see the world from their perspective and to imagine how they are feeling. For example, we might not know what it is like to lose a loved one, but we can still feel empathy for someone who is grieving.

Likewise, we might not know what it is like to live in poverty, but we can still feel empathy for someone who is struggling to make ends meet. This can help us with understanding and connecting with others, even when our experiences are different.

During coaching sessions, I have mainly used this process to help people resolve conflicts, as it allows them to see the situation from multiple points of view and identify areas where there may be misunderstandings or disagreements.

The perceptual position exercise is also very useful for gaining insights into our intentions, behaviour and motivations.

When two people are in conflict, it can be difficult to resolve the situation without further damaging the relationship. However, using this strategy can help to defuse the situation and improve communication.

I have combined the technique with hypnosis to deepen the experience and enhance its effectiveness, guiding clients through each position and using suggestions and imagery to help them fully engage with each perspective.

The process

A person imagines themselves in different positions, or "perceptual positions," in order to gain a more comprehensive view of a situation. These positions include:

  1. First position: Seeing the situation from your own perspective, as if you were directly involved in it.
  • What am I feeling right now about this situation?
  • What actions can I take to improve this situation for myself?

2. Second position: Seeing the situation from the perspective of another person, as if you were in their shoes.

  • How might the other person be feeling about this situation?
  • What might the other person be thinking about my actions or words?

3. Third position: Seeing the situation from the perspective of an outside observer, as if you were watching it happen.

  • What might an unbiased observer think about this situation?
  • What patterns or themes can I notice by observing this situation from a distance?

By switching between these different positions, a person can gain a more nuanced and empathetic understanding of the situation and the people involved. This can help them to communicate more effectively, resolve conflicts, and make better decisions.

Thank you for reading

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