Position Determines Perspective

business advice mindset matters personal development personal growth perspectives Jun 18, 2024
Jody Holland Training & Speaking | Leadership
Position Determines Perspective

Your position in life will always determine your perspective. When I was younger, I was terrified to return something to a store. Rather than deal with that interaction, I would accept my losses and either keep the item or give it away. It felt embarrassing to me to tell the store that I purchased something that I no longer wanted, that was the wrong size, or didn’t work out for me. That may sound a bit silly, but my perspective was that it was shameful to return or exchange something.

It was not until I started working in retail that I shifted the way I thought about interactions with cashiers. I got a job as a sales associate in a small retail store, and I was often the only one covering the front during my shift while a manager was working in the back. That means that I was the only person available to check people out, accept returns or exchanges, answer any questions customers had, look up prices, and work on various other tasks assigned to me throughout my shift. My experience in retail helped me realize that talking to a cashier was not so daunting. After all, they are another human being showing up for work. It is a part of their job to accept returns, and after being on the other side of that interaction, I know that they are not thinking about your return nearly as much as you might anticipate. There are many reasons why a person might need to return an item to a store, and most cashiers are not taking it personally.


I no longer felt anxious in stores to talk to the workers or to return merchandise. My perspective shifted because I was viewing the experience from a new position. I have been the customer, and I have been the worker. Seeing things from both sides helped me tremendously.

That being said, we are not always able to put ourselves in a different position, which means we must be very intentional about shifting our perspective when necessary. A manager will view things very differently than someone who just started with the company or even someone who has been there for years. The key is to recognize that we all have different viewpoints on a specific matter, and then we must work to try to find common ground.

Whether you are a leader, a follower, or a bystander in a workplace interaction, try to understand where the other person is coming from. If you have never been in their position before, ask for their point of view, and really listen to what they have to say. It is not easy to get people on the same page until we consider the various factors that are influencing their perspectives. We should seek first to understand before we try to be understood. This creates a more respectful workplace where individuals feel valued.

Sometimes in life, we have to remove ourselves from the situation we’re in and look at things from a new position. This happens naturally as we learn and grow, but we can also be intentional about shifting our perspective. We should recognize that there are always two sides to every experience, and each individual will view things differently, which brings value to the conversation.


-Meghan Slaughter

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