If you look at a road map, you will see many routes to a desired destination. While some of the routes will get you to your destination quickly, others may take a longer, more scenic path. Regardless of what you prefer, the destination is the same. Within this journey, our viewpoints are created. Viewpoints are unique to each of us. We have all taken different paths throughout life. Regardless of the path we have taken, leveraging those experiences can enhance the learning experiences we design and interact within.

Our viewpoints consist of three elements:

  1. Assumptions: These are things we believe to be true, regardless of whether we have all the facts.
  2. Perceptions: These are developed through our life experiences; it is how we view things.
  3. Expectations: These are the behaviors we expect of ourselves and others.

Within these elements, there is a uniqueness that emerges. For those willing and open, there is great potential for expanding how they view the world around them. If we think about those we engage with and consider the different routes they have taken to arrive at their current destination, our curiosity gives us the opportunity to learn about other viewpoints. As learning and development (L&D) professionals, the multitude of perspectives available to us in the classroom allow us the chance to create experiences that foster continual growth in the minds of our learners and demonstrates the value of our viewpoints.

For example, if you were asked to develop training around the topic of accountability, we could use our viewpoints to do the following:

  • Ask what accountability means to others. What behaviors are needed? What outcomes do others expect from accountability?
  • Listen to experiences to develop an understanding of how accountability has been lived by others.
  • Create space within our training to allow participants to share their viewpoints.

These actions help assist us in creating new “routes” to get to our destination. Our training on accountability is no longer an experience that we pull off the shelf. Rather, by seeking additional viewpoints, we can now create a learning experience that broadens the experiences of other learners.

As learning leaders, encouraging a spirit of curiosity in our learners can be difficult. Knowing how to manage common roadblocks can play a key role in how you influence others.

These common roadblocks could include statements like:

  • “I have way more years of experience than they do. What could they teach me?”
  • “I do not have time for other opinions. I need to decide and move on.”

When approaching these roadblocks, we need to examine how we are responding. Author David Bohm suggests we engage our learner’s curiosity through dialogue rather than discussion. In his book, “On Dialogue,” Bohm states, “Discussion is almost like a ping-pong game, where people are hitting their ideas back and forth and the object of the game is to win or get points for yourself. In dialogue, however, nobody is trying to win. Everybody wins if anybody wins. There is a different spirit to it.”

Another way of looking at Bohm’s viewpoint on discussion versus dialogue is to say discussion allows us to share our viewpoints, but rarely will we accept other viewpoints if they do not align with our own. Dialogue allows us to share our experiences and listen to understand others.

Navigating our map of the world can be a challenge. However, being open to the experiences of others creates additional routes that can get us to our destination in the way we desire.