How The 'Perspective Swap' Corporate Hack Can Be Applied To Relationships

Imagine if you were asked to take on the role of your boss for a day. How would that make you feel? Would it give you a better understanding of why they insist on deadlines with you and your colleagues? What about if you were asked to swap roles with someone in the sales department for the morning? Would you understand why they crunch numbers or think mainly of targets each month? Would that make you less irritated with them the next time they talk only about money at the weekly meeting? 

This is what's called a "perspective swap" in the corporate world. When they're implemented laterally, they're meant to make employees understand their colleagues in different departments better, and when the swaps are done vertically, you're supposed to be your boss for a day and see the workplace from their perspective. Despite how unconventional they sound, perspective swaps in the corporate world bring a great deal of harmony and empathy into a professional environment. 

What if this same hack were to be applied to relationships? If you think really hard, you'd probably agree that the one thing you desire the most in an intimate union is to be understood. To be seen as you really are. And one of the universal habits that is an automatic relationship killer is the inability to see something from the point of view of one's partner. Here's how practicing "perspective swaps" can help. 

They can help you see the bigger picture

Whether we like to admit it or not, we have our own preconceived idea of the world and how it works. This could've been influenced by how we were brought up or what we learned from the world as adults. And this set of beliefs often dictates how we communicate and conflict with our partner. 

Most of the time, our own perspective is so deeply ingrained in us that we don't even realize it's clouding our vision. According to marriage and family therapist Micki Lavin Pell (via Marriage), this becomes a problem during conflict. She explained, "When I work with couples, they often find it difficult to acknowledge what their real challenge is because they are so enmeshed with what they are dealing with. They are standing too close to the vantage point where they can't see the bigger picture." Lavin Pell thinks we hold on to our own perspective for three reasons: we're afraid of letting go of what we know, we're worried we won't be seen by the one we love, or we're just selfish and want to only see things our way. 

Whatever the reason, holding on to just our own perspective and refusing to see our partner's point of view (especially during conflict) can be incredibly damaging to the relationship. Swapping perspectives with your significant other is closely linked to empathy. You're choosing to adopt their mindset and see the world from their eyes.

How to learn to apply 'perspective swaps' in a relational context

Just because you decide one day that you're going to see the situation from your partner's point of view the next time you argue, that doesn't mean everything is going to work out nice and easy every time. In fact, learning to apply the corporate hack of perspective swaps in your intimate relationships might take consistent effort and time. 

Although the method is particularly useful during conflict, try doing it when you're not arguing, too. The next time your significant other shares how a particular scene in a movie made them feel, try and listen properly. Ask questions. Sometimes, the words you choose to use to communicate don't mean the same to your partner when they use them. Even these nuances can shape perspective, so pay attention and learn. Try a relationship check-in from time to time to understand how your spouse is doing generally. 

When you do find yourself having a serious conversation that looks like it's heading toward an argument, avoid the urge to engage in harmful, self-preserving behaviors like condemning or criticizing. Calm yourself down if you're angry, and force yourself to ask questions that allow your partner to elaborate their point of view, and resist the urge to judge them when they do share. When you both learn to do this for one another, what you're doing is creating a safe space for genuine expression, and this builds intimacy and trust in the long run.