I can usually find a way to connect with people, but occasionally it is extremely difficult. Of course, the toughest people to connect with are the ones where a relationship would be most valuable. I have found that widening my perspective helps me to find common ground with people.
The tool I use most often to accomplish this is reframing. For me, reframing is simply a structure for looking at ourselves, others, and situations from different angles. For example, a couple of years back my employer at the time introduced a new meeting structure. Many of us were frustrated by the idea of additional, longer meetings. As a way to discuss the elephant in the room and move to a more productive place, my colleague and I facilitated a reframing activity.
First, we passed out a photo of a picture frame. We asked our folks to write all of their current perceptions about the new meeting schedule. Grumbles were heard around the room. Then, we passed out another frame. We asked everyone to reframe their current perspective. We started hearing things like, “Now I have a seat at the table,” and, “Now I have more opportunities to collaborate outside my department!”
While this tool is not a magic wand, it does help us to view people and situations with a broader lens. Merely expanding our perspective can expand our possibilities! We can also find commonality when difference becomes overwhelming. Give it a try!!
Dr.Dustyn Alexander – Mandt Faculty