A core part of Human-Centered Design (HCD), Design-Thinking and Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD) processes understands empathy and “perspective-taking”. Imagining yourself in another persons’ shoes.
Perspective taking skills are rooted in a cognitive skill [head] called, “Theory of Mind” meaning understanding someone else’s perspective – “mentalize” about their experience. Empathy operates on emotional connections and feelings.
In trying to understand, move or lead others, one of the most important elements is called attunement. Attunement is perspective taking. This means can you get out of your own head and see and hear things from someone else’s perspective.As entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and leaders we need to be able to sit in our customer’s seat and understand their perspectives. This is hard but not as hard as you may think.
This is a key skill in entrepreneurship and leadership. Why?
You can’t force your customers, partners or employees to do things. Rather than coercion, we need a different capability called attunement. Can we sit in our customer’s seat to understand their pain points and problems? Can we sit in our employees seat? Can we get out of our own heads, see things other’s point of view? Developing this skill allows us to find common ground so that we can move forward together and built products and services that people need.
Research shows that when we feel powerful our “perspective‑taking” skills degrade. Feeling powerful can actually impair your capacity to lead effectively. Perspective taking has a physical element to it. When we mirror other people’s gestures, stand the way they are standing, use their words rather than ours, we have a better sense of where they are coming from.
There’s a notion that extroverts are more persuasive and they make better salespeople. There’s no evidence showing an extrovert advantage. It’s a myth. In fact, research has shown that strong extroverts make terrible salespeople. But it doesn’t mean that strong introverts are any better. Strong introverts can also make terrible salespeople. The people who are the best at persuasion sales are called ambiverts. They’re a bit of both – not strongly introverted or extroverted. That allows them to be attuned. They know when to speak up, when to listen, when to move and when to hold back.
The good news is that most of us are somewhat ambiverts. The way to be more persuasive, influential and build customer-centric products isn’t to tell people your solutions or what you think. But to do fundamentally human things like understand where people are coming from and see the world through their perspective.
Is perspective-taking part of your core service strategy?