You see the world uniquely. 

That is a fact. 

You have experiences that differs from everyone else's. 

You were born at a different time & place to everyone else, with different parents, families & socioeconomic status’s, different genes & traits, all coming together to create the YOU that you are. 

Unique YOU. 

Individual YOU. 

Important YOU. 

Unique YOU. 

Individual YOU. 

Important YOU. 

Everyone has their own lens that they see life through. Everyone has a different filter over their eyes distorting what they see in front of them. These lenses affect our emotions, decisions and our actions. Our lens is in a constant state of flux, changing as we gain new experiences, make new memories, think new thoughts, have new conversations. This means that as you grow as a person, your lens and your unique perspective grows too. 

What is my lens and it’s impact? 

Your lens shapes every interaction you have with others. Your lens shapes your moral compass. Your lens shapes the path that you choose to follow in your life. 

How do I figure out what my own lens is? 

Looking at your own lens is sort of like trying to bite your own tooth, in that your lens is trying to see itself without itself.

 You can get close though, by taking an outside perspective on your own life. Introspection is how you uncover your lens, and learning your own lens can help you understand others lenses as well. 

You can ask yourself a couple of questions, that will tell you a bit about your lens. 

What is my culture like? 

What are my values? 

What topics do I talk about? 

What are the values of the people close to me? 

How do I deal with anger? 

How do I deal with sadness? 

How do I deal with fear? 

How do I react when someone says something I don't like? 

What do I consider “normal behavior"? 

Do I think that people are capable of change? 

Do I think that I myself am capable of change? 

What are the major life events that have effected me? 

Your lens shapes your instincts. It shapes your reactions to situations. When you hear some new piece of information, your lens tells you whether its good or bad. When you have to make a decision, your lens is your bias, leaning toward one side or the other. When you hear something on the news, your lens usually shapes your first opinion about it. 

Your lens takes control of your first reactions. When something crazy, surprising, or upsetting happens, however you initially want to react, (before you think,) that’s your lens.

Someone said something about you behind your back? 

 Your angry, you feel you have been disrespected, you can’t let them walk all over you 

This is when you can stop - question your own anger, and ask why. 

Yes, they said something behind your back. 

Yes, they might be disrespecting you. 

Why is it making you angry? 

Because you care about their opinion?

Because you need to be liked? 

Because you need to be in control of the situation? 

Questioning your lens and learning from your own reactions will teach you how you interact with other, but also how you want to interact with others. 

Your lens shapes your gut reaction. In an instant you subconsciously weigh all of your:

- past experiences

-  beliefs

-  mistakes

-  successes

-  culture

-  social norms

-  friends and family members potential opinions

All of these factors play a role in your decisions and your reactions, whether you like it or not. 

Being aware how our lens filters our world, can help us separate fact from fiction, it can help us acknowledge our bias, and better understand ourselves. We can question ourselves, question the basic beliefs that we normally would not question at all, we can ask why and keep asking why until we get to the root thought, or belief that is shaping our lives without our input. 

How do I navigate other people's lenses?  

Navigating other people lenses is a large part of emotional intelligence. It is the skill of reading other peoples lenses and being able to interact with them in a positive way. 

To understand someones lens, the first step is figure out what you can tell about their current emotional state; looking at their body language, tone, and use of words. Their current emotional state will be the biggest indicator of what your conversation will be like. When someone is in a state of high emotional flux, it can be difficult to have a meaningful conversation with them, so learn to recognize when the person your talking to is in a state to talk, and when they aren’t. 

You can use what you know about their past paired with any patterns you have learnt about their behavior through however long you have known them. You can be sure that any significant life experiences they have gone through will shape their lens, the girlfriend (or boyfriend)  that gave them trust issues, the parents that made them perfectionists, the trauma that hurt them, the list goes on. Using what you already know about them and taking the time to think about how it might affect their lens will help you navigate their lens better, help you empathize more, and help your words reach around this lens and make an impact. 

The better equipped that you are at handling other people lenses, the better you will be at working with all sorts of people. If you can read someone's lens quickly, you can steer the conversation where you want it to go, or, at the very least, you can stop it from devolving into anger and confusion. 

Put it into practice! 

You can learn how to navigate lenses quickly in real time with immediate feedback when you have a conversation with someone. If your giving a friend advice for example: Your not gonna repeat one piece of advice again and again when it doesn’t work the first time, no, your gonna try one angle, then based on their physical and emotional response, you might try something else. If they look confused, simplify your point, if they look angry, empathize with them, if they look sad, comfort them. 

Every conversation you have with someone is a chance to practice reading other peoples lenses. A chance to become a better communicator by understanding your audience a bit more. Every conversation you can practice the art of connection with others, finding what words work with which people in which settings. Figuring out how to empathize with others, how to listen, when to speak. Learning the difference between when someone wants to get into a deep conversation, or when they don’t want to think.

Everyone is unique, and that is a great thing. It stops the world and the people in it from becoming boring. But just because everyone is unique doesn't mean we can't get closer to understanding them, so that we can all communicate and interact better together. The better we can become as communicators, the better we can understand our own perspective as well as others, the more meaningful our interactions during our short time here will be.