I love people-watching. Maybe it’s the coach in me, or perhaps I’m just really interested in the human condition, but I can spend hours watching strangers and trying to identify from what perspectives they see and react to the world. If you’re not aware of the 7 Levels of Perspective, take a moment to go back and read our series of blog posts that all started here. I spend a lot of my coaching energy working with people on their perspectives and how they are coloring their lives (either for the good or not so good), so it’s fascinating for me to watch people display tendencies and being able to say, “Mmmm hmmm, he’s really stuck in that victim mentality today,” or, “Good for her! She’s totally acting from an opportunity mindset in this situation!”
One of the advantages of the recent explosion of social media is that you can ‘people watch’ on a much larger level than ever before simply by scrolling through your news feed. People show a lot (sometimes TOO MUCH) of themselves and how they’re seeing the world through their social media posts. And, whether they like it or not, people are judging them. I don’t necessarily mean this in a bad way, but it’s good for people to remember that what they post can be interpreted as a representation of who they are.
Do you want to know more about the perspective levels of your friends or family? OR are you worried that you aren’t projecting the best perspective when YOU post? If so, let’s go through a little exercise together to analyze some of the common types of posts we see on social media and what it says about the poster’s mindset. We’re not naming names here, but I’m sure you’ll find at least some of these very familiar!
This should be an easy one! When I see posts like this, I always imagine them being said in the voice of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. You can just see the dejected face as these words come out of the poster’s mouth. Of course, we’re talking about THE VICTIM here, or Perspective #1.
This is a much more uplifting post than the first example, and you’ll probably see this a lot on those who are in business or who compete in athletics. The key here is that the poster is making sure everyone knows this is not about HIM (or HER), it’s about the other person. This falls into that ‘If you win, then I win’ mindset, making it Perspective 4, or the ‘Service’ mindset.
This one can be tricky at first because it’s using the guise of something ‘good’ (religion and prayer) and often we don’t equate ‘good’ things with conflict. It’s further complicated because in order to objectively identify the perspective of the poster, you have to completely remove yourself from whether you agree or disagree with the statement. However, the key to figuring this one out is the fact that one viewpoint is being touted as ‘good’ (religion in our homes, schools and courts) while the other is implicated as being ‘bad’ (no religion in our homes, schools and courts). It goes on to imply that gun violence is the result of the ‘bad’ viewpoint. This is classic Perspective #2, or the ‘Conflict’ perspective. Try convincing this poster that gun violence happens just as much in religious households and you’ll probably be in for a fight!
What a nice sentiment! And clearly this is coming from someone with the third perspective, or one of rationalization. Why? Because it’s clearly talking about someone who is kind of acting like a jerk. And instead of saying, “Hey, this is person is acting like a jerk,”, they’re rationalizing the behavior by saying, “We don’t know what they may be going through, let’s allow them to act like a jerk.” I don’t mean that to sound as negative as it probably came out. Sometimes this is a perfectly acceptable way to go about something because, after all, it’s true. We ARE all going through our own struggles. But when you start letting everyone get away with bad behavior simply because they are ‘fighting their own unique war’…well that’s when you start feeling like a doormat and can slide back down to level one.
You often see this type of post connected to pictures or sentiments about children. Why? Because children are one of the best reminders for us to ‘live for the moment’. Yes, this is a level 6 ‘Synthesis’ perspective. The past doesn’t matter, the future doesn’t matter, I’m simply going to sit here and enjoy the moment as it is right now.
This is a great example of the 5th perspective, or the one characterized by possibilities. I love what this quote is saying: possibilities are limited only when we stop looking for or imagining them. Of course, as we’ve talked about before, if you’re constantly operating from this viewpoint it can get a little draining (for yourself and others), but it can be such a freeing way to see life.
Notice one perspective missing? That’s right, we have no example of someone posting from the seventh level of perspective (the Transcendence level). Wondering why? Well, when someone gets to that level, the last thing on their mind is posting to Facebook. In fact, these individuals may be unaware that Facebook even exists as they’re too busy meditating on a mountain with monks. And if they ARE posting about meditating on a mountain with monks…well then they’re just ACTING like they’re in level 7!
I want to make clear that I’m not judging anyone about their Facebook posts. In fact, if you look back through my timeline, it’s likely that I’ve posted nearly every one of these types of messages (as most people have). What I want you to take from this is twofold:
Be more understanding of what people are going through. If you see a post that rubs you the wrong way (usually a first or second level post), try to think about the perspective represented and how that knowledge might help you communicate with that person.
Be cognizant of your own posts. If you look back and see a multitude of the same types of posts, ask yourself if that’s how you’re seeing the world. If that’s not how you WANT to be seeing the world (or how you want others to view you), do some soul-searching and see how you can improve.
Knowledge is power, and once you can identify what you (or someone close to you) is going through, it’s always easier to take that next step toward understanding and effective communication.
Trish Cody has over 18 years of experience consulting with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 Companies. Today, as an ICF and iPEC Certified Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with clients to uncover their core values and beliefs, clearly see how they are showing up in their behaviors and impacting their success, and to shift their thinking to naturally attract positivity and success. For more information, visit www.TrishCody.com.