There are, of course, many ways to deal with situations, difficult or not. This is only one way.
- First, think of a difficult situation.
Write it down. An example would be that your child is not unloading the dishwasher, and it is creating a logjam in the kitchen, which frays your nerves and impacts your schedule. Or perhaps your spouse is a grump or a slob, etc. I’m sure you can think of a difficult situation if you really try!
- Now, consider the perspective of the other person involved.
So, in the case of the child not unloading the dishwasher, pretend you are your child. From her perspective, it may be that it is not clear when the dishwasher should be unloaded. If she is getting ready for bed, and laying out her clothes and the dishwasher isn’t quite finished running, she might get distracted and forget to do it. It might be that the dishes are too hot to handle right when it’s finished running and so there isn’t enough time to unload it before she goes to bed. It may be that other people are in the kitchen when she is supposed to unload the dishwasher and there is a traffic jam. It may be that she is rebelling against that particular job and would prefer another job. (Easy now, we are considering someone else’s perspective.) You can even gently ask for your child’s perspective on this issue in a non-threatening manner. In the case of your spouse being a slob, it could be that he doesn’t want to open the lid on the hamper to put his socks into it, because he grew up just tossing them into an open hamper. (Remember…someone else’s perspective…you still have your perspective.) It could be that he really doesn’t know where he is supposed to put stuff. It could be that the house is highly decorated and he can’t tell the difference between clutter and decoration and so he just dumps stuff wherever. There are people who are just not visually “tuned in”. Once again, you are allowed to gently and kindly inquire into your spouse’s perspective.
- Is there anyone you can talk to about the situation who might provide a useful perspective?
Please do not pick a friend or family member who will say “You don’t have to put up with that! Toss them to the curb!” That is not going to help you. Perhaps that person will be able to share his perspective on what happened that was similar and what helped solve the problem. Even if it’s not the exact same situation you are having, it may get you thinking in a different direction and allow you to come up with a great solution.
- Reconsider the difficult situation using your new information.
You may now know that your child is not being irresponsible. You may be able to see that it is not clear where the plastic tubs and lids are supposed to go because there really isn’t room in the cabinets to put them away in a straightforward manner. You may be able to see that moving three items to put something away is a little too much to ask of an 8 year old, no matter how smart she is! So, you could probably solve that situation by making it easier to put things away. Get rid of some kitchen clutter, or at least store it elsewhere. You may now see that your spouse isn’t showing you he doesn’t care about you, but just that he sees things so very differently than you do. You may decide to take the lid off the hamper. You may decide that he does other things well, and the fact that he can’t see clutter doesn’t mean he is mean or defective. You may even decide to go for a more minimalist look so that he can start noticing that hmm, something is out of place, because it becomes more obvious to him. Or you may realize that you really like your decoration, and you are willing to take 15 minutes a day cleaning up “stuff” that he’s left out. You can appreciate him for his other qualities, and just do it yourself. You don’t have to feel disrespected because you realize he just has a limitation – similar to your bad sense of direction.
Considering other perspectives to difficult situations does not take away anything from your perspective. It simply gives you more information which you can use to solve the problem effectively. It’s a much nicer way to live.