Researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia have uncovered a key to great relationships and personal popularity. It’s the ability to take another’s point of view.
In NLP, we call it, “going second position.”
The research, which appears in the journal Child Development, is a meta-analysis of 20 studies. Over 2000 “popular” children throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia were analyzed. Researcher Virginia Slaughter reported the following:
Our study suggests that understanding others’ mental perspectives may facilitate the kind of interactions that help children become or remain popular.
We can easily infer that likability among adults follows the same principle. We all want to be understood. If you have the ability to understand others, then you’re going to be appreciated.
How to Use Perceptual Positions to Understand Relationships
In any relationship, we suggest there are three points of view. Here they are:
1. Your own position: Your thoughts feelings, opinions and experience.
2. The other’s position: What the other must be feeling, thinking and experiencing.
3. The observer: This third position represents what a neutral observer might notice.
The above study suggests that if you mentally put yourself in another’s position and deduce what;s going on, then you’re going to be well-liked.
Actually, we can do much better than that!
Try the following (do it with a memory of a conversation you had with another person)…
First, acknowledge how you felt, what you were thinking and how things went for you.
Next, pull way back and imagine what a neutral observer might notice about the two of you. What’s really going on here? Let this neutral perspective in!
Then, take the other person’s perspective. What must it be like for him or her in this conversation with you? How do you look through their eyes?
Finally, return to the first position, your own, and reevaluate. What have you learned?
Slipping in the observer position really helps get the big picture. I submit that it even helps create a more informed other position.
These tools are taught in greater depth in the NLP practitioner training, as they have been for over 30 years. It’s nice to see science catching up!
Mike Bundrant is a retired psychotherapist, Master NLP trainer, and practicing life coach. He and his wife, Hope, founded iNLP Center in 2011. For information on coaching with Mike, please visit his coaching website AHA System.