This book is fantastic for teaching my children how to treat others. The book then attempts to convey the argument that we should look at our difficulties from the perspective of someone else. For example, it describes the account of a corporation that always shipped its goods a little late, making it difficult for the railway yard to get things packed up and ready to travel without having to work extra. Writing the firm a letter and advising them that they should get their act together and get their merchandise to the trainyard earlier so that they may get on the railway without paying extra is pointless because the other company does not care about overtime.
Instead, it discusses the problem from the opposing viewpoint. “Your products always arrive later in the day,” the letter needs to say. This makes it more difficult to get them on the train on time. We propose that you bring key things that your clients require earlier in the day so that they can be shipped out on schedule. This will ensure that your products are delivered more quickly, and everyone will benefit.” The idea of telling someone your issues in the hopes that they will solve them is undesirable for various reasons. Now the opposing side believes they are doing you a favor when, in fact, they are not.
This creates problems in the future as people begin to see the relationship differently and may try to call in favors in a variety of ways. Second, and most likely, the other company will interpret the original letter as a request and then do nothing to alter their schedule. The second letter demonstrates that it is the company’s problem to get it there earlier or else their products will not be transported on time. It focuses the entire issue on the company’s desire to ship items.
Someone else feels the need to repair their own problems. This strategy has a far greater influence on others. You could see the gears working in my oldest’s head as I read this to him. I questioned if he got it, and he answered it was all about what the other guy needed. So, yeah, I think he got it.
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Dr. Matt Chalmers
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