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Competencies covered

MSMSUP102: Communicate in the workplace

MSMSUP106: Work in a team

Seeing things from other angles

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When you're communicating with others, you have to bear in mind that different people sometimes see things in different ways.

So you need to constantly remind yourself that the message you think you're conveying may not be the same as the message that's received.

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Just to illustrate the point, have a close look at this picture. Is the woman young and beautiful, or old and ugly?

If you can only see one of the images - keep looking - you're about to get a surprise.

Once you've found both, take a moment to switch back and forth between them.

See how different each one is, but also how obvious they both are once you know what to look for.

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Communication is like that.

When you're with people who know where you're coming from, it's easy, and comes naturally.

But when you're in a situation where you can't make sense of what the other person's saying, or why they're reacting the way they are, you need to be able to take a step back and say:

What does this look like from their point of view?

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To be able to see the issues from the perspective of others is a huge asset.

It doesn't mean you always have to agree with them, but it does help you to see where the misunderstandings might be.

It also allows you both to explain your positions more fully.

This is what good communication is all about - getting the message across so that both parties can see its meaning in the same way.

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Learning activity

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Show the picture of the young lady and old lady to some other people. The link below will take you to a larger version than the one shown above.

Young lady / old lady

Which image do they see first? Is it the same as the one you first saw?

Can you think of an example from your own experience where you interpreted a situation in a certain way, and then realised that someone else might have taken it quite differently? It may have related to a joke you told or a sarcastic comment you made. Try to think of an example that involved a cultural difference between you and the other party.

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