There’s plenty of skills that are extremely useful in life. Public speaking, persuasion, active listening, being able to bake a cake, etc.
Most of these are “content” skills. Things that you can do with things. Take some piece of information, data, or raw materials, and rearrange them into something else.
Structural skills, on the other hand, are a step above. Or outside. Or different.
What do I mean?
Suppose you’re having an argument with somebody. You say cheeseburgers are best. They say tacos are best. You’re arguing about “things.”
But suppose you had the ability, instead of focusing on “things” to focus on “perspective.”
How we view “things.”
Most of us walk around life, and see things through our own eyes, our own experiences, and our own biases.
After all, is there really an objective way to measure the “goodness” of a taco or a hamburger?
Is that argument really about “things” or is it about who’s got the better perspective? Or even who can defend their perspective the best? Or the most forcefully?
After all, nobody gets into an argument about whether or not 8 is more than 6.
Try this next time you’re speaking with somebody. It helps if you’re talking about something that isn’t an argument, and isn’t very emotionally charged. Generaly day to day chit chat is perfect.
While you’re listening to the other person speak, imagine that you are inside their heads making those sounds they are making.
Imagine their history, their childhood, their fears, their strengths and their weaknesses.
Then switch back into your own head and listen to them again.
Do you have a different perspective?
This can be very effective when having an argument or disagreement with a spouse, partner or close friend.
Instead of just repeating each other’s beliefs and opinions over and over again, try to voice your “opponents” beliefs, opinions and ideas as accurately as you can.
Or, if you’re going into a conversation that you think might get heated, prep yourself by first trying on the other person’s beliefs, history, ideas, etc, and imagine hearing yourself coming in and presenting your argument.
Knowing what you know now, and knowing what you want the outcome of that argument to be, and having an idea of what it’s like to be them listening to you, can you think of a more effective way to present your argument?