“I’m you…” (Fictional Detective Lt. Everett Backstrom)
There is a detective show that has come on to US television this winter called Backstrom. It is about a quirky, eccentric detective in Portland, Oregon, who heads up a special crime unit. One of the things that the eponymous detective does is to get into the mind of the person he is investigating. He will start off with “I’m you…”, and then proceed to delve into the motivations of the person in front of him.
The idea for doing this isn’t new to TV dramas. Many other crime procedurals use the same tactic in one form or another, perhaps most famously by the profilers on Criminal Minds. Sadly, if some of the stories I have been reading are true, Backstrom will be cancelled at the end of this season.
But that doesn’t change the idea behind what that detective, and many other smart people do. If you want to understand why a person acts the way they do, it is good to work hard to see things from their perspective. Way back when we were talking about Principle 1 (Don’t criticize, condemn or complain), I said that the opposite of the three Cs was understanding. When I try to understand the motivations of the other person, I am far less likely to commit one of the 3 Cs. In this set of principles, we are trying to Win People to Our Way of Thinking, the concept is even more true. If my goal is to have you and I come to a meeting of the minds, where we are presently at odds, then it is in my best interest to understand why you think and feel the way you do.
I know that probably the world thinks that Mrs. Bobby-C and I live the idyllic life, full of nothing but happiness and rainbows. If only that were true. We have our differences from time to time, and sometimes those differences can be heated. One thing I have learned, from having blundered my way through all too often, is that when we are in a disagreement, it is best if I take time to truly understand what my wife is thinking and feeling. I need to know what is making her react the way she is, so that I can understand what I am doing, or what is in the environment, that can be addressed.
When people ask us about keys to a long, healthy marriage, my wife and I always come back to communication. And when I get into a more lengthy discussion, I encourage married couples to work hard to understand what the other person is thinking. I am not advocating that they become mind readers, rather that they take the time to see what is in front of them, and ask the right questions. I have learned, and you should as well to…
Principle 17 – Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.