In my personal and professional life, I find myself translating behaviors and communication patterns to people to be able to coexist with other people. The gap is due to lack of consideration of the other person’s perspective. To help those who find it difficult to interact with other people, I want to offer three principles I use to understand their perspective when connecting with other people. They are to be mindful of my audiences’ beliefs, environment and influences.
The first perspective to keep in mind when connecting with your audience is to be mindful of the beliefs of your audience. In my experience, belief has been the root of decision making, boundary setting and motivation. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, belief is a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing. Think of belief of as the internal GPS on what choices to make, processes to engage in and identify what does and doesn’t apply to them. An audience’s history, personal definitions and boundaries are shaped by their belief. Understanding these things assists in identifying things to say and things to stand clear of when you’re having a conversation.
Next up, is the environment of your audience. Have you ever heard the phrase “you are your environment”? Well, that applies here. People know how to function in their environment. An environment can range from a place to a profession. For example, Americans speak English and doctors are trained in medicine. You wouldn’t approach a lawyer asking for recommendations on surgeries. You apply communications talking points that are applicable to your audience. If you don’t know your audience’s environment is, you can do some research or ask your audience basic questions to inquire about what you know.
The last perspective I use to connect with people is to understand their influences. Policies, contract obligations/agreements and social media are all examples of influence. I generally go in with a general understanding of how heavy these circumstances impact the behaviors of my audience. For example, contract obligations restrain people from having conversations about topics that the contract specifically outlines not to have a conversation about. When I am aware of the contract obligations, I know to stand clear of having those conversations with my audience. I tread carefully.
To increase your chances of connecting with someone, remember to take a few minutes to understand their perspective when connecting with them. I’d love to hear how these perspectives work for you or if you have any suggestions on methods of approach.
Christina Glancy is a Pittsburgh Native who serves as our Community Outreach Specialist. She has built a unique perspective which blends project management, marketing, community involvement and data analysis. She has a successful track record of engaging diverse groups of stakeholders throughout the Transportation, Health Care and Cybersecurity Industries. She believes in changing the world one conversation at a time.