By Karen Axelton

1001643702Did you ever have an experience where someone else’s opinion of a person or idea is so completely opposite of yours, you’re stunned?

If you’re a liberal, you might have this reaction when watching The Glenn Beck show. If you’re a conservative, you may feel this way when watching Jon Stewart.  Or maybe a friend who normally seems reasonable reacts strongly to something that seems innocuous to you. What do you do when this happens?

I’ve had a couple experiences like this in the past month and it got me thinking about different perspectives and how valuable they can be to business owners. Let’s be honest: When we talk about accepting different perspectives, most of the time what we really mean is giving someone else’s perspective a cursory glance and nod, then going back to our own, original perspective–feeling somewhat smug in the knowledge that now we’ve “seen a different perspective.” And, when most of us ask for another’s opinion, what we’re really looking for is an opinion to validate our own. If we don’t find it, we dismiss that person’s perspective and keep seeking until we find a critical mass of people who agree with us.

But what if getting a new perspective became more than just an exercise, and we really made an effort to look see things through someone else’s eyes? Making this leap is difficult, but if you let go of your own preconceptions and truly manage to view the situation from another’s viewpoint, you’ll be amazed at what you can learn.

Are you considering making a new move in your business that seems like a great idea to you? Try getting a different perspective. Even if it doesn’t change your mind, the other person may bring up issues you’d failed to consider.

Ready to launch a new product that your target audience seems to love? Try getting the perspective of a tangential audience. Maybe you’ve got a new tech tool that tweens are nuts about, but did you forget to ask moms what they think? (Parents are the ones paying for it.) Maybe moms absolutely hate it–for all the same reasons the kids love it.

When getting new perspectives, you need to know where to draw the line. Get too many opinions, and you may feel yourself losing your bearings. It’s important to keep your head about you–but keep in mind, if everyone else is saying the opposite of what you think, maybe you–not they–are the one who needs to rethink your position.