Recently I had occasion to reflect on the importance of perspective in business relationships. My reflection started with two concepts. The first? Worldview. I’ve studied worldview in the religious/spiritual context and buy into the concept. It’s easy for me to believe that a person’s worldview can color their response or reaction to statements, behaviors, and ideas. In a professional context, it is the fundamental perspective derived from an individual’s, department’s or company’s professional exposure, experience and influence. Let’s call it workview.
The second concept stirring my reflection was that of “love languages”. Gary Chapman theorizes that there are five primary universal and comprehensive ways of expressing and interpreting love. Everyone has a love language, and we each identify predominantly with one of the five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. The brunt of Chapman’s theory is that unless you are showing someone love in their primary love language, you are running the risk that your efforts are not actually interpreted as love. (If you’re not comfortable “loving” your professional contacts, feel free to substitute “respect” for “love”.)
Since the people we interact with professionally are still in fact people, it stands to reason that 1) their distinct workviews will color their responses or reactions to statements, behaviors and ideas, and 2) the language or methods we use to address them may be interpreted based on their primary love language rather than ours. It’s my theory that an understanding of and belief in these concepts can improve our communication, patience and productivity. Here are some specific tactics where this understanding may have such an effect:
1) The Pause – If we are entrenched in these ideas of perspective and compassion, reflection should become par for the course – we might just think before we speak.
2) The Approach – The vehicle you choose for your message may also affect its reception. If you tune into people’s responses you may learn that you communicate better with some people by written word, some by spoken word, and some with face-to-face conversations. Just as you shift your perspective to understand workview, so should you consider your audience’s preferred method of communication…not just the communication method you perceive as your strongest vehicle.
3) The Sandwich – As one of my favorite bosses taught me, sometimes you need to go with a pro-con-pro method. A person whose love language is Words of Affirmation, for example, may buck if you give them direct criticism but drink up your words (including the criticism) if you’re affirming them in the process.
4) The Nod – You may include someone in a conversation or ask their advice even when their input is not needed. This is a good way to reassure the insecure and/or familiarize yourself with someone’s workview.
So there it is – a blurry reflection transformed into written word. I’d like to sift through the murk and make more sense of these ideas, but I think some percolation will improve the efforts. Do you have any thoughts to contribute? Do any applicable situations come to your mind?
On a personal note: Just a few short hours after these thoughts started tumbling around in my head, my husband and I had an argument. I assumed my fighting stance and totally and utterly failed to consider his perspective or primary love language. Talk about getting knocked off your high horse!