I’ve long been an advocate for the importance of being able to take other people’s perspectives — in general but specifically when it comes to close relationships. The worst conflicts I’ve had have been whenever one or both of us became utterly intransigent. Fixed in our views. And wouldn’t entertain that the other person was inhabiting a different position, a different reality. A different truth, even (although that phrase might give some of y’all the heebie jeebies, since the most fixed of us also tend to believe in monolithic truth).
I recently discovered a term for a mindset that values perspective-taking — among other things — as well as research that demonstrates it is beneficial to relationships.
And folks, I’m so used to research punching me in the face with conclusions that challenge my viewpoints that it’s kind of nice to finally find one that validates something I’ve seen but had a hard time proving or articulating.
Although I gotta say… I’m not a fan of what the term is called. It makes it hard to say you have this mindset, without seeming a little over-the-top with the self-flattery.
Seriously, who wants to go “I try to use wise reasoning whenever possible?”
Ai yai yai. But I didn’t name it. So here we are.
What is Wise Reasoning?
So what is this wise reasoning business anyway? Well, wise reasoning is a mindset in which you do the following:
- Recognize and admit where your own knowledge lacks
- Accept that there many be multiple conclusions drawn from any situation
- Take the perspectives of others involved (yes!)
- Try to come to a compromise
Can this be difficult sometimes when things get heated? Sure. I find I have to basically force myself to take a step back when I’m in a relationship conflict and start whirring up cold cognition and distance in order to reason wisely (ugh, I feel like such a dork saying that; seriously, I’m not a fan of the name but whatever).
How Wise Reasoning Can Help Relationships
And it’s not just woo woo stuff. A recent study showed that wise reasoning can help improve your interpersonal relationships. How? Well, specifically it has to do with how the inevitable conflicts that you have with others affect your relationships.
Basically, wise reasoning doesn’t mean that you have fewer conflicts with people. But it does seem to lend to the possibility of finding meaning in the conflict. And this has long-term consequences, in that it also lends to more positive feelings about the conflict (finding the experience fair and satisfying), which lends to overall relationship well-being.
This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.