What Viewpoint Do You Use: Victim or Responsible?

All of us have a choice in how we look at our circumstances. One choice is the victim viewpoint, the viewpoint that the events in my life are the result of something being done to me. The second is the responsible viewpoint: I am the cause for my experience because of choices I have made. A key distinction when discussing these two viewpoints is that neither victim nor responsible have anything to do with the truth. One way to understand the difference between victim and responsible viewpoints is to put on different colored sunglasses. If you look at an object through red sunglasses, it appears red. But if you look at the same object through blue sunglasses, it appears blue. Neither one tells you what color the object really is. The object could be another color, or white. This illustrates how your viewpoint can color every experience in your life.

Why would you want to look at how you are responsible for anything — and everything? Because when you do, you create options and a chance of turning your current experience into the one you want it to be. Keep in mind that this is not a guarantee, but it is much more exciting than the zero chance you have of changing your circumstances when you wear victim glasses.

Let’s take a look at the experience of one of our clients, a local auto parts warehouse, to see how the choices we make color the outcome of our experiences. This client wanted to improve the appearance of their building. They were willing to donate their own time to remodel and paint, but they requested that the corporate office pay for materials. First, the corporate office didn’t respond to their request. When our client pressed the issue, they were told the money wasn’t in the budget. How did our client respond? They took a victim viewpoint. With the help of our coach, however, our client looked at the choices they had made: the tone of their request (insinuating that the corporate office was at fault for the state of their building), their choice of words (this was a project the corporate office would like to do), and expecting the parent company to bear the burden of solving the financial problem (when it wasn’t in the budget).

How could they change this into a responsible viewpoint? By asking for a specific amount of money — $4,000 — under the condition that they raise sales by $20,000 in one month. And, in order to know whether their request was heard, they asked for a definite yes or no within a time limit. The result? The auto parts store received the money, upgraded the appearance of their store and raised their sales — even though the money still wasn’t in the budget!

Perhaps your sales are not as high as you’d like. Perhaps an employee or boss won’t listen to you. Or perhaps budget cuts threaten a project you’d like to complete. Here are some ways you can look at these situations through responsible glasses. What choices did you make that might have caused you not to be heard? Did you try to communicate at the end of the day when people were tired? Was there a tone of judgment in your voice and choice of words? Were you vague? Did you match their style of communication (controller, supporter, analytical or promoter)? Would someone else have been better at communicating the request?

Examine what new choices you can make. There’s no guarantee you will gain what you want, but at least the odds will go up.

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