Having Difficulties at Work or Home? Become a Neutral Observer
There’s an old adage that advises: If you don’t like your circumstances, you can change it, leave it or accept it. Of course, when you are in the middle of difficult circumstances, this is the hardest time to try to make decisions. Why? Because chances are you are not seeing things objectively. You are probably being influenced by past events or worried about future outcomes. Preconceived ideas, concepts and assumptions may be getting in the way of assessing the true nature of the situation. To appraise your situation objectively, you need to become a neutral observer: free from judgment and bias; emotionally detached and disengaged; and unattached to any particular outcome. Once you’ve become a neutral observer, you are ready to make a decision.
Let’s see what this would look like in action. Suppose you have been having ongoing problems with a co-worker in an adjoining cubicle This particular person is so loud when talking on the phone that you can’t get your work done. After discussing the situation with your co-worker, the situation improves for a short while, but the high volume returns after a day or two. Under these circumstances, it is easy to see how you would be emotionally charged: frustrated, annoyed, angry. Take these three steps before taking your next move:
- Look at the circumstance from YOUR point of view. Write down your own reality. How do you see, hear and feel about the situation from what matters to you?
- Look at the circumstance from THE OTHER PERSON’S point of view. Imagine their reality. Write down how it would look, see or feel if you were them.
- Look at the circumstance from a NEUTRAL OBSERVER point of view. This is often called the “wiser self” or “higher self” position. It’s as if you are looking in on the situation from the outside with no stake in the outcome. Imagine that you are viewing characters and events in a movie. Write down what you see and hear as you watch these characters interact, trying to understand in a detached fashion what is happening.
By experiencing the difficulty three times from three different perspectives, you will be able to “see” new things from each. From the Self position, you have obtained a clearer understanding of your needs and expectations, less clouded by negative thinking and reactions or old experiences that act like filters and blinders. You have honed in on the essence of problem for you. From the Other position, you are able to better understand what is going on for the other person, why they are resistant to change or unwilling to meet your needs. From the Neural Observer position you are able to see things that the two people involved in the difficulty cannot. You may be able see new and creative solutions.
Now you are ready to make a decision. Should you continue to talk to your co-worker about talking more softly on the phone? Should you request a new cubicle, even if this means leaving the department? Should you just accept the situation and find a way to manage your reactions? There may not be an easy answer, but you are more likely to find a successful outcome once you have seen the difficulty from multiple points of view.
What difficulty are you dealing with? Try exploring it from all angles before making your next move. You’ll not only see things more clearly, you’ll get a wider range of view. Let me know what happens!