Updated: Sep 30
There’s an expression, “You can’t read the label from inside the bottle.”
Sometimes we get stuck on a problem and can’t find a way forward, since we are easily subject to biases leading to bad decisions and limited perspective.
Third-person framing shifts the perspective from oneself to someone else, and when successful, it offers powerful benefits.
Why Change Your Perspective?
Resilience. We tend to focus more on negative feedback and bad times due to negativity bias. When launching a new product, for instance, if you receive 99 positive comments and one critique, you may be fixated on the negative feedback.
The startup journey is filled with criticism, so adopting a third-person perspective can be helpful to face all the questions and challenges.
Learning. When we are emotional, it can be difficult to learn the necessary lessons and move forward.
Third-person framing can help reduce the emotional impact and allow you to focus on improvement.
Engagement. Thinking outside of ourselves enables us to better appreciate the fears and desires of others since they seem less "directed" at us.
With third-person framing, you can gain insight into how to motivate and support others more effectively.
Decisions. Cognitive biases such as Affinity, Confirmation, and Anchoring can negatively influence our decision-making.*
Using third-person framing can help you distance yourself emotionally and analyze options more objectively.
Applying Third-Person Framing
Illeism is when we refer to ourselves in the third person using pronouns or our name. For instance, instead of saying, “I have a tough conversation coming up with John,” try, “Benjamin has a tough conversation coming up with John.”
The switch causes us to think more objectively about what’s happening.
Confidant. A helpful technique is to imagine that the problem or decision you are facing is happening to a close friend. What would you do then?
You could even role-play the situation with an actual friend, adviser, or mentor. They ask questions and offer perspectives to expand your options.
Reflection. Meditation has numerous benefits, including reducing stress, enhancing mood, boosting cognitive skills, and improving concentration. Journaling allows you to name your fears and concerns, diminishing their power over you.
Reviewing past journal entries may remind you of lessons from similar experiences that you can apply to your current situation.
For founders, thinking about oneself in the third person can help approach and solve complex problems by looking at them from a different perspective.
* Affinity bias occurs when leaders favor individuals perceived to be similar to them, resulting in unfair assessments. Confirmation bias occurs when leaders actively seek out information that supports their existing beliefs, while disregarding information that contradicts them. Anchoring bias occurs when leaders overly rely on the initial piece of information they receive, potentially leading to distorted judgments.
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