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By Fred Kofman
Philosopher and Vice President at Linkedin

“Don’t worry about what others think” seems like a bad idea to me. Better consider what others think, decide what’s right for you, and do it.”

Have you ever postponed an argument with your spouse because “the kids might hear us?”

If so, you might have taken the third person perspective. That means that you would have put yourself in their shoes and imagined what they would think and feel if they heard your conversation. And you assessed (back in your own shoes), that it would not be good.

The third person perspective allows you to take the point of view of relevant people beyond your direct counterparts in an exchange.

From the first person perspective, you notice your spouse staring at the screen while the food gets cold, you notice yourself getting angry because his/her behavior seems disrespectful to you. You also notice that the kids are within earshot.

From the second person perspective, you put yourself in the shoes of your spouse and imagine his/her stress, the desire to get done with the emails,  attention so drawn to the task at hand that he/she forgets about his hunger, and everybody else’s. You also notice that the kids don’t show up in your spouse’s awareness, which is fully dedicated to the emails.

From the third person perspective, you put yourself in the shoes of your children and imagine how they will feel if you start an argument over this. (You know it doesn’t have to be a fight, but you’ve been there before and once it starts it is hard to keep it cool.)

First, second and third perspectives give you a map that includes all the personal points of view: I, you, he, and she. This map you can help you navigate any situation much more effectively than a naive, and arrogant, first person approach where you think that you see things the way they are and that that is the only correct way of seeing things.



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