We are the other

We each live our lives looking out from behind our own eyes. To each of our conversation partners though, we are an unknown. We are like everyone else they have ever encountered. We are the Other Person.

Recognizing our status as a full-time Other Person could certainly help us be more humble and more aware of our effect on others, on the energy we bring into a room (or suck from it). We all know how deflating it is when an Other Person is being difficult, self-absorbed, overly negative, or uninterested. We also know how welcome it is when the person you’re dealing with is easygoing, interested, and pleasant.

~ David Cain from, https://www.raptitude.com/2022/07/you-are-always-the-other-person/

I used to be frequently annoyed by people looking at their phones while we were together. After all, I am the most important thing in my first-person existence. I used to project that judgement onto others until someone pointed out that there’s no reason to expect that I am more interesting than the entire world which is in our phones. Sure, there’s noise and distraction in there, but there’s also endless opportunities for real connection.

And once I noticed the bias of my first-person perspective, I began asking myself a question when I see someone interrupted by something: In this moment, am I actually more interesting?

That’s the perspective shift I want to point out today. From my first-person perspective, I’m likely to try to change them. But when I think of myself as an Other Person, I can try to see myself from my conversation partner’s point of view. That shift offers me the chance to change myself in the moment. What do they need, right now, that I might be able to be?


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