To achieve Step 11, individuals will show that they can listen to two or more different perspectives on an issue and compare them.
In the previous steps, the focus was on how to demonstrate active listening, and then to be aware of how a speaker might try to influence us as listeners. This step thinks about how to listen critically to different perspectives and to compare them.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
A perspective is a view of something. That something might be as small as a specific problem, or as substantial as the global economy.
We have a diversity of opinions on a topic, because we have such diversity of information, insights, lived experience, values, cultural norms and underpinning assumptions about the world. What drives these different perspectives is explored in a lot more depth in Step 12.
A perspective might seem obvious or intuitive to the individual who holds it, but look utterly incomprehensible to someone else.
Each of us only have an incomplete understanding of anything – even experts in their field or academics spend a lot of time talking to one another to share different perspectives, and to debate and try to reconcile different ideas about how the world works.
By being open to different perspectives, we are open to:
There is plenty of evidence that groups that work to incorporate diverse perspectives into their thinking make better decisions and get further as a result. This is because the human brain does not tend to worry about the limitations of what it knows – it presumes it knows enough and then keeps going.
It takes an active effort to try to open up to different perspectives, and to wrestle intellectually with the differences that emerge as a result.
Comparing perspectives is not an easy thing to do, particularly when listening. A simple mental model to do this is to take each individual in turn, and when listening try to capture some of this crucial information:
This process of capturing information is helpful as a starting point, and to help us to process what we are hearing.
To successfully compare perspectives, though, we need to build up our mental models of the options and how to reconcile what we are hearing.
As we build up our view of the different perspectives, we are looking to:
In education, there will opportunities for us to listen to others share their perspectives on a topic. This might be during a debate, a class discussion, or when exploring a complex concept or enquiry question. In school, college or university we are expanding our knowledge of the world on a daily basis and building our understanding through listening to different perspectives. When we are presented with multiple viewpoints, it can be challenging to compare what is being said. However, by developing a method to do this effectively, you can listen to a range of perspectives in a critical way and determine which have credibility and begin to build your own perspective.
In the workplace, we might work with others when developing new products, discussing company policies or processes, or when reflecting on a service we offer. During these discussions, individuals may share a variety of different perspectives on a given topic. A range of perspectives can help lead us to a more well-rounded and considered solution which we may not have reached if working on our own. It may also help us to better understand and provide for our customers, clients or co-workers. However, it is important to approach perspectives in a critical way to ensure that your own perspective is based on credible and relevant information.
Listening to different perspectives helps us grow, stretch our thinking and see the world from diverse viewpoints. By learning more about others and ourselves, we can build stronger relationships. When presented with a range of perspectives, having the tools to effectively compare them is beneficial when determining our viewpoint on a matter. This might be useful during group discussions with friends or family, when listening to a debate or reading articles about important issues.
To best practise this step of Listening, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
This step lends itself well to reinforcement in the classroom. For instance, debate can be a way of deepening learners’ engagement with a topic, and those listening have to decipher what they are hearing and decide what they think at the end, having reflected on a variety of options and views.
This step is also useful when learners are listening to different perspectives in other areas of learning. This sort of comparison is often an essential part of learning at a more advanced level.
This step is best assessed through a structured activity where learners have to listen to a range of perspectives on a problem or question. They should demonstrate that they can capture critical information, and then organise it in a simple model to compare the options and reach a justified view of their own, based on what they hear.
This step is relevant where individuals have to make decisions which involve understanding and evaluating different perspectives.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed by observing an individual during meetings when the merits of an idea or plan are being discussed.
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: