The kaleidoscope of multiple perspectives

Have you ever had a difficult relationship in your life? A co- worker, a family member or maybe a friend?

Consider looking through a kaleidoscope in a relational way. What colors do you see? Do you see the grays or the vibrant, uplifting colors?

Sometimes when we focus too much on something that we perceive as negative, it becomes bigger than it really is –– to put it delicately, like a blemish. Now I find this a little embarrassing to talk about, but hey, when one has that dreaded pimple on one’s nose, it tends to be magnified when looking into the mirror. Sometimes one might put a pound of powder on it and turn a molehill into a mountain. If we could just look at ourselves proportionately that dreaded day, we could see the remaining clear complexion.

We all have those days. We all fall into magnifying both our own and others’ blemishes in life. Talk about looking through telescopes or binoculars instead of beautiful kaleidoscopes!

A major contribution to conflict in relationships seems to stem from people having such different perspectives on the same situation.

How do we define perspectives? Some keywords in Webster’s Dictionary are color, impression, appearance, and point of view. On the same line if you look up kaleidoscope you will see words such as colored glass, mirrors, symmetrical patterns and finally, beautiful. Of course, that depends on your perspective.

I believe that sometimes when we look at people we somehow want them to look and think the way that we do, almost as if we want to look into a mirror instead of a kaleidoscope. And if we were to look into our own mirror, what kind of friend, co - worker, relative, are we? Are we following the golden rule of treating others, as we would want them to treat us?

It’s funny how people can look through the same kaleidoscope, or “situation” and see such different colors, or “perspectives.” (Sometimes not so funny, sometimes there is anger, bitterness, fear, and hurt.) So how do we make the jump from keeping our convictions, standing up for what we believe in, yet seeing the other person’s point of view?

Here is an interesting mind-bender. In the book “Getting To Yes” by Roger Risher and William Ury (of the Harvard Negotiation Project), they give these fabulous tenants’ perceptions versus landlady’s perceptions:

Tenant: “The rent is too high.” Landlady: “The rent has not been increased for a long time.”

“I always pay the rent when she asks for it.” “He never pays the rent until I ask for it.”

“She is cold and distant; she never asks me how things are.” “I am a considerate person who never intrudes on a tenant’s privacy.”

In your perspective, who is correct –– the tenant or the landlady?

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