While working in another country, I learned that many routine documents require official company stamps before they are considered valid. Though my department used such a stamp almost every day, we always had to borrow one. So I asked my boss, a very senior person in the company if we could have our own, and he agreed. I then asked one of my employees to secure us a stamp. A simple request … or so I thought. Every couple of days I asked him for status, and he always said he was working on it. Finally, after about three weeks, I started asking around … and I learned something.

Apparently, having a company stamp was a Very Big Deal, and getting one required many indirect and direct conversations with power brokers at many levels. And this was what my employee was doing. Had I not known of the complexity of obtaining a stamp in that culture, I would have assumed that the employee was a slacker.

That made me what other such misconceptions might exist in my mind, and in yours, my dear readers. It’s so easy for me and you to judge people when we don’t know what sort of life situation they are in or what their job actually entails. As mentioned in the prior Signal-to-Noise Ratio blog, we can’t really fully be in another person’s shoes. We can’t help but consider things primarily from our perspective, like seeing a shadow circle rather than a rectangle in the picture. Even if we can’t be perfect, we can strive to do better, seeking objective knowledge to confirm or deny our subjective idea about others. The stamp story has helped me realize anew that I should always try to look a little more into the perspectives of others.

Something To Think About: What are some assumption you might carry about other’s perspective? Are some situations where your perspective could be just as “right” as others? Or just simply wrong? How can you ask these questions in a way that improves both your life situation and that of others?

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