Rebecca Johnson: Widen Your Perspective

Management advice from Rebecca Johnson

By seeing situations through your colleagues’ eyes, you can build empathy, trust and an awesome team

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 edition of INVISION.

Of course, you know the story about the four blind men and the elephant. What was this thing, they wondered?

The first one touched the tusk and said it was definitely a spear. The second grabbed the trunk, then jumped back in fear — he thought he’d touched a snake! The third man wrapped his arms around one of the elephant’s legs and declared it to be a tree. The fourth man wandered to the back of the elephant, found the tail and argued that they were all wrong — it was a rope! Each man answered the question based upon his perspective.

What does this story have to do with eyecare? Consider how each member of a vision care business team views the average person who walks in the door. The receptionist sees a person who needs to be entered into the computer, the technician sees someone who must be pre-tested, the doctor views the patient as a person who needs to be diagnosed and treated, while the optician sees the patient as someone who would look absolutely amazing in a red designer frame.

That’s right: Because everyone in the office sees a patient from a different perspective, we sometimes step on each other’s toes. For example, maybe your technician becomes impatient when the receptionist is a little slow with the check-in process. Or maybe the doc is running behind, so the opticians wind up skipping lunch to help people choose their eyewear.

One of the most exciting things about people is that each of us is unique. Being unique means we all have different points of view; however, it’s easy to forget that our own point of view is not the only way to look at things. When you can’t see situations from other people’s perspective, it leads to conflict in relationships.

So take time to shift your own focus. Consider ways to help others do this, too. Whether through cross-training or job shadowing, give everyone in your business the opportunity to learn what their colleagues experience every day. Just like putting on a great new pair of glasses, getting to understand a situation from someone else’s point of view builds a more harmonious, effective workplace.

REBECCA JOHNSON is a 30-year veteran in the eyecare business. She is the executive director of Business Consultative Services for GPN and owner of EyeTrain4You, an ophthalmic staff training and development company. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..