Take time to step into another perspective
“Is everything set for the big day?” I asked as I started my life coaching session with Brittany.
She was getting married in two weeks.
“Yes, but that’s not what I’m worried about,” Brittany responded.
“What are you worried about?” I asked.
“It’s Katelyn, one of my bridesmaids. We were college roommates our freshman year, and we are like this,” she said, holding up crossed fingers.
“Isn’t she one of your bridesmaids?” I asked.
“Yes, but I found out her feelings are hurt because I didn’t ask her to be the maid of honor. My elementary school friend, Terri, is my maid of honor and, frankly, I’m irritated Katelyn is making a big deal out of it. I don’t want it to ruin my big day,” Brittany said.
“Will you do an exercise with me that might help you to understand Katelyn’s perspective?” I asked.
“I’d love to gain some perspective on this,” Brittany said.
“Let’s put the idea of being asked to be the maid of honor into the center of the room,” I explained as we stood up.
“Let’s divide the room into different areas, each symbolizing various perspectives on the subject of being asked to be the maid of honor,” I said. “In each section, we’ll label and step into a perspective and describe how we see things.”
“Have you ever been a maid of honor?” I asked. Brittany nodded.
“What did it mean to you to be asked?” I asked.
“I was flattered,” Brittany responded, “But I’m also flattered to be a bridesmaid.”
“So this area would be labeled, ‘flattered to be in the wedding,’ ” I said. “Explain your perspective, including how you feel, what you might say, etc.”
“I feel honored and special,” Brittany began, “whether or not I am asked to be the maid of honor. What matters is being asked to stand up for someone.”
She further explained her feelings and thoughts in that area.
“Name another perspective,” I suggested as I stepped into the next imaginary area, “possibly one that might match how Katelyn sees it.”
“Overlooked,” Brittany said. “In this perspective, selecting the maid of honor is a ranking system where the most important friend is invited to be in the most important position.”
“Does this match your perspective?” I asked, gesturing back to the last perspective.
“No, but Katelyn may see it this way and possibly that’s why her feelings are hurt. If she thinks the reason I didn’t ask her is because she ranks lower, that’s not true. It’s just that I’ve known Terri for such a long time,” she said.
We further described the “overlooked” perspective, trying to gain a better understanding of Katelyn’s viewpoint.
“Now that you have a better understanding, what can you do?” I asked.
“I’ll approach the situation with more compassion and less irritation,” Brittany said. “I’ll talk to her and ask her to clarify her feelings. I won’t change the wedding party, but approaching it this way will hopefully bring more understanding.”
Brittany left with two action steps: to have the conversation with Katelyn and to completely enjoy her special day.
Coaching challenge: When you have a misunderstanding, identify your perspective of the situation. Then imagine the other person’s perspective.
How do these viewpoints differ? How can you better approach the situation by better understanding where the other person is coming from?
Sheri Fisher is an intuitive life coach living in Grand Junction. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. For more information and to access her blog, go to http://www.coachwithsheri.com.