Translation vs. Perspective by Jim Stovall

It is important that we calibrate advice, facts, or even opinions that we receive from others. Someone may be telling you the truth as they understand it, but the information may be damaging to you in your circumstance. Sometimes people are simply wrong, but other times, their perspective is simply different. You cannot just translate someone’s words into a perception within your own mind and assume that you have accurately received information.

If someone describes a person as rich, the weather as hot, or an individual as old, you’ve got to understand their perspective, not merely translate their words. To an individual in a third world country, a rich person may have $100, live in a tin hut, and drive a ’58 Buick that won’t start two out of three days. In some regions of the world, if they are describing the hottest day of the year, they actually mean that you need to wear a heavy sweater, but you can leave your coat at home. To a third grader, a really old guy may not even be voting age.

Oftentimes, we will hear valid advice that tells us: If we want to be successful, we should do what successful people do. This is basically good advice but should be put into perspective. Someone who started a company in their basement and, over several decades has built it into a billion dollar multi-national corporation, should have some good advice on how to succeed; however, if you want to follow in their footsteps, you need to know what they did when they started, not what they are doing today.

If you want to get exercise advice from a great athlete or someone who is in top physical condition, you need to find out how they got started not what routine they follow today. This perspective is critical in our personal and professional lives. Whether it’s your colleague, your spouse, or your children, it is not nearly as important what people say as it is to understand what they mean.

Whether it’s a personal or professional relationship, statements such as, “I’ll meet you first thing in the morning,” “This is going to cost a lot of money,” or “This is a major priority to me” mean different things to different people.

People who succeed learn how to work with others. People who work well with others learn how to communicate. Great communicators identify their own perspective as they make statements and clarify the perspective of others before they internalize the communication.

As you go through your day today, hear what other people say but, more importantly, know what they mean.

Today’s the day!

Submitted by: Dave Abram, Ohio University Alumni


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