Relationally, Perspectives Matter

By Amanda Zinke, MBA, MSOD, PCC

Have you wished you could know better how to approach different people you work with?  Or how to work better with a partner?  Did you ever debrief a conversation with someone else who was involved and find you had two entirely different perspectives?

My parents love to tell the story of visiting a possible investment property with my grandfather.  When they left the meeting with the realtor and were talking about the property, each of the three of them had heard the seller quote a different price!  Now in this situation there was an “answer” to the question, but that’s not always the case.  It is entirely possible that when two people seeing the same event might see or hear something differently.

One example of this is Rubin’s vase (please see photo at right).

What do you see?

A vase?   Two faces?  What you experience is all based on your perspective.

As Steffan Surdek writes “perspective” is the way individuals see the world. It comes from their personal point of view and is shaped by life experiences, values, their current state of mind, the assumptions they bring into a situation, and a whole lot of other things.”

And why is perspective important in the workplace? 

Pinot G. Audia writes in the Harvard Business Review that “successful collaboration between stakeholders starts with what social psychologists call perspective taking: the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes.”

I’ve had the privilege of using the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) in my coaching work.  SDI helps people understand their own relational perspectives (how we see the world), and that of other people.  It is easy to work with and remember and has helped many of my clients approach better communicate and work with others. 

SDI’s Motivational Value System ™ serves as an anchor or the “colored glasses” through which a person views the world.  It gives us a view of someone’s relational perspective from the standpoint of their orientation to three indexes (people, performance and process) and a hub, which is the perspective of change, inclusion and flexibility when things are going well.  When teams have an understanding of their own values, and that of others, they can choose behaviors to support different situations that strengthen communication and relationships.

I have seen this work support healthy relationships within organization and have seen its power outside of work as well.

  • One group who took the inventory had an epiphany around how to better support their manager, a strong red MVS (oriented to performance) by leading meetings with the result or request
  • An HR professional approach me after a team building using the inventory results with tears in her eyes. She was so grateful that one of the teams she worked with now understood that she (a blue, focused on people) needed to hear how people would be impacted by a new business strategy
  • Three staff members in Tampa (green, oriented towards process) who asked that information be sent to them before a recurring weekly meeting so they had time to review it ahead of time
  • One coachee related that he now understood why his wife needed to gather as much information and consider as many viewpoints as possible before making decisions.

As you move forward today – think about how someone might be relationally oriented as you interact with them – are they oriented towards people, performance, process or change.  And then use that to better communicate and work together.


Discuss with Amanda how you might utilize the SDI with your team.