Shift Perspective to Embrace Others
This literacy opens us up to our own frames (perspectives) on the world. As we widen our frames, we begin to understand and appreciate the frames of others. Having this literacy to frame and reframe enables us to shift perspective and opens us to possibilities and solutions we may never have even considered if we stayed comfortable within our existing frames with our blinkers on, which may be keeping us very small.
A Magnifying Glass in Our Minds
Our human perceptual capacity is like a magnifying glass that we can move over text or images. We focus in on something and often lose awareness of what originally surrounded that magnified area. It’s like cropping photos on our digital cameras. We crop the image to fit our preferred view of the scene and forget the bigger picture.
When we consciously reframe, look for patterns, examine our filters, and question our perceptions, we can emerge with a new picture of reality. If we share our new perceptions with others and hear theirs, we can shift perspective into an enlarged reality. It can create change and movement. It can change the future.
Placing Our Attention
The principles of Appreciative Inquiry tell us that we go in the direction of what we think about, for good or ill.
- What you study, grows.
- What you focus on expands.
- What you pay attention to over time is what you fall in love with, whether that focus is positive or negative.
So what will you choose to focus on?
Many of you are familiar with the term, the Attention Economy, coined a couple of decades ago. Here’s a perspective on it from Tim Wu’s 2017 book, Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble To Get Inside Our Heads. He says that as attention is the most valuable commodity there is today, there’s a lot of competition for it. Something is constantly grabbing at us to attract and hold our attention and shape our thinking.
According to Wu, attention is mostly about what we are blocking out. Our brains are adept at blocking stimuli and focusing on something very particular. For example, we might be able to listen closely to a soccer match on TV, while sitting in a noisy airport terminal or sports bar. We take that ability for granted, but it’s quite a feat. We focus on what we want to see or hear, or what we expect to experience, and block the rest. That blocking and shaping depend on our frames.
How and where we focus our attention, our conversation, and our energy aligns with how we view the world.
To notice your frames, you might ask yourself:
- What am I spending the most time on?
- Where do I get my information? Who and what do I read, watch and listen to?
- What am I talking to my friends about lately?
- What makes me change my mind and shift perspective on something?
Cultural Frames: Cultural Change in Our Lifetimes
If you think about it, we have all participated in world-shaping conversations in our lives, in one way or another.
Major shifts in cultural frame and focus are crafted in conversation, in what we read and write, in overwhelming an old concept or belief through new information, examples, and mostly, through new stories about how things are and how people are. The new frame may be formed into legislation at some point, but the shifts begin and become commonplace through what people choose to talk about and focus on.
Think back to the historical extension of the vote to women in the US and other countries, something that overturned generations of so-called ‘truth’, that women couldn’t understand issues well enough to vote. The majority of frames about women have shifted and we are continuing to shift perspective.
And just in the past few years, the frame around the entire LGBTQ community and gay rights leading to same sex marriage has shifted with relative speed after years of struggle, persecution, and injustices.
There are so many more examples: our relationship with animals and the earth, and what constitutes health, safety and security to name a few. We are changing the narrative around these big societal issues.
Think of a time when you changed your perspective on something important. What caused the shift for you? Let us know.
The Appreciative Voice Literacies Guide
Seven Literacies to living and leading in these times
A summary and infographics of all the literacies, offering a definition, a description and daily practices to amplify your appreciative voice, plus the articles and podcast episodes to explain each.
Dailification: Ways to shift perspective in the moment
Flipping: With Appreciative Inquiry and positive psychology in our backgrounds, most of us know the wonderful practice of taking a problem and consciously choosing a strength-based, solution-focused frame. We flip a problem to its positive opposite, and then head in that direction, looking for what’s already working and what’s possible.
Stretching: Look for a mutual frame that accommodates two or more points of view into a new way of seeing possibilities. One quick way to envision this is thinking of ‘ANDINGS’, something our friend Marge Schiller came up with: not ‘this’ or ‘that’, but ‘this AND that’. Planet AND Profit. Budgetary savings AND social services. Take a larger view.
Dropping: In a difficult or divisive situation, consciously drop your point of view. Move from advocacy to inquiry; from position to exploration. Listen with undivided attention to another perspective. Ask the other person or group: how do you see ‘x’ topic or issue? What outcomes are you looking for? Why does it make sense to go in that direction?
The Literacy Continuum
Where might you place yourself on a continuum for Reframing Reality?
Maybe closer to zero, if you feel like these ideas are somewhat new to you. Or, if you feel farther along the path to mastery, you might find yourself closer to 10! Let us know!
Next episode, we’ll focus on the literacy of Kindling Kindness – the compassionate voice. Choosing kindness is a lifelong path of mastery, and we can find daily ways to foster kindness, greater reflection and mindfulness in our daily interactions. Some of you are already experts!
It’s your choice to find and express your Appreciative Voice.
Connect with Sallie and Robyn
Sallie on LinkedIn
Invitation to AI Jam in September in Burlington Vermont, USA
Books Mentioned in this Episode
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Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble To Get Inside Our Heads
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Seven Habits of Highly Successful People
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