Their Slant, Your Slant


Their Slant, Your Slant
© Mary Long

Your Business

It is more important than ever these days to relate well to the individuals who report to you—that is, if you want to accomplish anything significant. Your team may include a variety of personalities, including a few that you find difficult to communicate with in any meaningful way. No two human beings are alike, and everyone cannot be approached in the same manner. As a manager, this requires some flexibility on your part.

Unfortunately, some conversations may degenerate into individuals talking past each other, with no real connection, when it is important that the meaning of each person’s words be clearly understood by the other. It helps to understand where other people are coming from—their “slant”—when you want to drive home a point or give clear instructions. But it will help even more if you understand where you yourself are coming from—your own “slant.”

Your employees and peers have their own opinions, attitudes and beliefs. So do you; that’s human nature. We agree or disagree with other people based on our slant, which may have been built up over the years through family history or the examples of those around us. Everything we have learned from our parents, peers, environment, past experiences and the media slants us one way or another; we cannot deny it.

There isn’t room in this column to suggest different ways to better understand yourself and others. You can study the many suggestions that are available elsewhere, but here are a few ideas to begin the process:

Start with yourself. Try to objectively analyze your outlook, opinions, biases and convictions. What is your usual frame of reference or point of view on a variety of subjects and people?  

Be honest. You aren’t trying to change yourself, just to better understand your beliefs and current mindset. Later, you might want to have a frank discussion about this with someone you trust. You may not agree with that person’s observations, but they can help you see yourself as others see you.

After you’ve learned more about yourself, meet in a relaxed atmosphere outside the workplace environment with someone you have had difficulty understanding. Be neutral, shake hands, and drop the boss mentality if that person reports to you. Minimize discussions relating to work; get to know them on a personal basis. Approach this person as you might talk to an interesting stranger you barely know. 

This is your time to observe body language, to listen and to talk less. Do not let your biases shape the conversation. Be disciplined in your remarks; certain words and expressions from you may trigger a negative reaction or withdrawal. 

Repeat this effort with another person. You will get better at it with practice. If you are successful, the gap between your slant and the slant of others will narrow, and your understanding and ability to communicate will improve dramatically.  

Jack Goodhue, management coach, can be reached at

Related Topics

Business    Management    Market Topics