The Value of Alternate Perspectives

“I just had a Daphne moment!” I thought to myself.

At this point, most readers are thinking: “What is a ‘Daphne moment’?” By my definition, a Daphne moment is when one considers the other individual’s perspective and assumes the best, before one considers their own perspective and assumes the worst.

Let me provide the backstory.

Daphne Collier is the wife of Vince Collier, Andesa’s Executive Vice President ofpuppy3 Distribution Services and Interim CTO. Daphne has a very big heart and a wonderful spirit.  She and Vince are very active in Southeastern Guide Dogs , a non-profit organization that raises, trains and matches guide dogs with visually-impaired individuals.

As Vince and I were sharing stories one day, he told me about a recent episode where a contractor hadn’t completed a home project for the Collier’s.  Vince was having difficulty reaching this contractor and having him honor his commitment.  The more Vince tried and the more time that elapsed, his level of frustration grew.  Daphne then said to him “I wonder what’s wrong with Bill.  It is certainly unlike him to be non-responsive.  We should probably pray that everything is all right with him.”

Translate this to the work environment, and this approach challenges us as leaders and managers to work from the assumption that people are good, motivated, fair and honest.  Until proven otherwise, we should believe that most people genuinely want to do the right thing, and we should act out of this belief during our interactions with clients and staff.

My Daphne moment occurred a few weeks later.  My family was late for an appointment to see an apartment for my son, about two hours from our home.  There was an accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and we were caught in traffic. My wife called the new, potential landlord and left a message.  She called as traffic thinned and left a second message, noting we would be about 75 minutes late for our appointment.  Freddy never returned our call or acknowledged receiving our messages.  As we arrived, there was no sign of Freddy.  Several more calls and text messages went unanswered.  I suggested we go to dinner and perhaps we would hear from him.

The mood at dinner shifted from one of optimism and excitement to one of frustration.  “I can’t believe he stood us up!” Why won’t he answer? “This is not the kind of landlord with whom you want to be doing business.”  It was then I suggested, “I wonder what could be wrong with Freddy?  I hope he’s not in the ICU and can’t use his cell phone.  He always called us back before.”

Minutes later, my wife’s cell phone rang and it was Freddy.  “I am so glad you are ok,” he said.  “I was at the apartment and when you didn’t show up, I was worried you were in an accident or something.  I couldn’t stay past 6 because I had a doctor’s appointment, and I just got home and had to call you to find out if everything is all right.  I left the door open for you to go up and see the place in case you arrived.”

Freddy invited us to his house to discuss lease terms.  We met this warm, gentle, great guy.  We learned that he did not own a cell phone and only heard our six messages on his answering machine after he had called us at the restaurant.  We spent the evening talking as if we were old family friends. He then showed us his vintage car collection and picked fresh vegetables from his garden to share with us.  I am excited that my son will have such a man nearby as his landlord.

As a leader, I challenge you to approach your work environment from the assumption that people are good, motivated, fair and honest. Until proven otherwise, we should believe that most people genuinely want to do the right thing and we should act out this belief during our daily interactions with our clients and our staff.

We often act from our own perspective and emotions first, without considering other’s perception or considering the matter at hand.  When our expectations are not being met, we immediately react negatively.  A Daphne moment provides a chance to pause and consider an alternate perspective.  Try it next time you sense frustration growing within you.  Act from the perspective that the other person is good, and something must be wrong for them not to be performing as you expect.  I look forward to you sharing your personal Daphne moment story with me in the near future.

You can reach Ron through Twitter: @RScheese  or LinkedIn: Ron Scheese 

You can learn more about Southeastern Guide Dogs at guidedogs.com

 
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