What’s the difference?

It’s an important question any time you’re trying to improve something.

In software, developers very often use the phrase “it works on my machine” and this can be maddening to a user experiencing a bug. Except for the lazy developer, what the phrase really means is “there’s something different between my environment and yours, that’s responsible for this anomalous behaviour”. Working out the difference is a crucial part of trouble-shooting.

With people, when seemingly opposite stances are taken we also need to look for the differences in environment (real and perceived) to break a deadlock. If we understand why someone else interprets the same facts differently, we can move nearer to common ground – and/or change the (real or perceived) environment to mutual benefit.

It’s not just the difference between where we are and where we want to go – the difference in how other people see where they are and the destination is hugely important, too.

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