Context and Perspective

Have you noticed that if an opposing view is shared on an online platform it is more than likely to get a barrage of commentary along the lines of “how could you?” Or “get back in your box”.

An opposing view doesn’t necessarily make it wrong. It is simply different and in most cases comes from the perspective of the person holding the view. Their context creates their perspective.

Context doesn't change a fact - it can’t. The fact is absolute. What context does do, is alter the way that somebody perceives the fact - ie gives them their perspective.

Let me share two examples with you.

See the picture below. Is the drawing in the middle a 6 or a 9? It simply depends on which way you look at it.

For a real life example here’s a story from some time we spent in Asia earlier this year.

We were met at the airport by our driver who had essentially zero English. Suffice it to say we didn’t have any of his native language either so there was a lot of gesturing and showing of maps. He had a friendly demeanour and a big smile. It was clear we were in safe hands.

When we hopped into his car the smell was quite overpowering. We were convinced there must be dead rodents in it. In all honesty we discreetly christened his car “the mouse trap”.

The following day we were joined by an English speaking guide. We couldn’t help ourselves and remarked at the strength of the aroma in the car. “Yes” he said. “Doesn’t it remind you of freshly cooked rice? Your driver has gone to a lot of trouble to find a specific herb and has crushed it and put it in the rear door pockets so you can have an authentic local experience”.

In an instant our disdain turned to a combination of embarrassment and acknowledgement. With that context it did smell like rice!

Lesson learned: make sure you understand the background before jumping to a conclusion based only on your own experience.

As Stephen Covey much more eloquently put it
“seek first to understand then to be understood”.

Perspective comes in many shapes and forms.

Let’s remember to make sure we have all the context we need before we shape the perspective we have of the situation we are in.

All the best for the balance of 2023. It has been quite a remarkable year - so far.