Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

Rushing to work at a hospital, a nurse was driving fairly fast and failed to stop for a stoplight. A policeman caught up with her in the next block and said, “Doesn’t that red light remind you of something?”

The nurse replied, “Oh yes, someone needs a bed pan.”

After some explaining, the bemused officer reminded her to pay attention to her driving and kindly let her off with a warning,

Understanding different points of view is essential in both our personal and professional lives. It’s about recognizing that everyone has their own unique perspective shaped by their experiences, beliefs and knowledge.

For example, three people with different occupations looked at the Grand Canyon.

The archaeologist said, “What a wonder of science!”

The clergy said, “One of the glories of God!”

The cowboy said, “A heck of a place to lose a cow!”

In business, it is crucial to understand the perspectives of your customers, employees and competitors. This understanding can guide your strategies, product development and customer service. Treating different points of view with respect and consideration is paramount for both personal growth and professional success.

It starts with active listening and empathy. Truly listen to what others have to say without interrupting or planning your response while they are speaking. This shows respect and allows you to fully understand their perspective. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but understanding their feelings and viewpoint can be enlightening and can lead to better mutual understanding.

If you are unsure about someone’s point of view, ask clarifying questions. This can help prevent misunderstandings and shows that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. By asking what their ideal product would be or how their ideal supplier could improve, you gain invaluable insights that can drive innovation and customer satisfaction. Asking open-ended questions can lead to deeper insights and may even challenge your own preconceptions.

At MackayMitchell Envelope Company, we listen to what our customers are looking for, whether it is an advertising opportunity, a unique color or an efficient billing envelope. We present options and listen to their specific needs to satisfy their interests.

Acknowledge the validity of other perspectives, even if they differ from your own. Recognition doesn’t equate to agreement, but it does foster a respectful dialogue. Embrace the diversity of opinions as a strength. Different perspectives can lead to more robust solutions and innovations.

Look for areas of agreement or shared values that can serve as a foundation for collaboration and moving forward, especially in situations of conflict or negotiation. Sometimes you may need to find a middle ground that respects different viewpoints while still achieving a common goal.

Consider how your own biases and experiences shape your perspective. Be open to learning and changing your viewpoint when presented with new information or compelling arguments. Use differing perspectives as an opportunity for personal and professional growth. They can challenge you to think in new ways and expand your horizons.

In essence, treating different points of view with the care they deserve is about fostering understanding, respect and collaboration. It is about building bridges rather than walls and recognizing that our shared humanity is enriched by our differences.

Embracing different points of view is a strategic advantage in life and business. It allows us to connect with others, solve problems creatively and see opportunities where others might not. To understand the full picture, you must be willing to look through someone else’s lens.

That seems like a tall order in today’s polarized climate when we can’t seem to agree on anything. But we must remember, agreement is not necessarily the desirable goal. Instead, we should focus on respectfully accepting that our differences are what make life interesting.   

An old story tells of two men who were walking along the streets of London when the music of some beautiful chimes from a nearby cathedral floated through the air. One of the men remarked to the other, “Isn’t that wonderful music?”          

“I didn’t hear what you said,” replied the other.       

“Aren’t those chimes beautiful?” repeated the first man. But the other man once again failed to catch the words, and the first man asked yet again, “Isn’t that gorgeous music?”

“It’s no use,” replied his friend. “Those pesky bells are making so much noise that I can’t hear a word you’re saying.”

Mackay’s Moral: The wise person doesn’t just tolerate different points of view; they treasure them.

About the Author

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.