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From Where We Sit

Shifting perspectives

Anton Ng

For this very long weekend due to the 2017 Asean Summit, I decided to move out of the house and stay someplace else with my two girls. It was partly because it has been a while since I had a date with them and I really wanted to spend this time with them. I wanted to get myself updated with my daughters, such as what food they like to eat, what kind of games they want to play, what types of words they use, how they sleep, what makes them tick, what ticks them off. In a way, this trip was for me to have a better view of their perspective, which, in turn, should allow me to deepen my relationship with them further.

Prior to the trip, I had this seemingly trivial encounter with one of the security guards stationed at our village’s gate. I got a message from a friend on Wednesday afternoon saying that he had delivered a sealed package (with no value to anyone but me) addressed to me at the guard outpost by the main gate. That particular information skipped my mind for two days.

On the Friday of the same week, I remembered the package as I reached the gate on my way home. I lowered the driver’s seat window and asked, “Chief, may iniwan daw na package para kay Anton Ng. Kahapon yata. (somebody left a package for Anton Ng, yesterday, I think.” The security guard checked his drawer. As he walked back toward my car and handed me a sealed brown envelope, he said something annoying, “Hindi naman ito kahapon eh. Nung isang araw pa ‘to iniwan. Sabi ko nga sa nag-iwan, sabihan ka agad. (This was not from yesterday. This has been here since the other day. I even told the fellow who delivered it, inform the recipient right away that it’s ready for pick-up.” There was a hint of frustration in his voice, I could sense it.

Pasensya naman, (Sorry, please?),” I said in a voice that usually comes out when I try to make light of a situation or make a joke. The thought that instantly crossed my mind was: “Why is this guard overreacting. I just forgot to pick it up yesterday.”

As I continued driving home, however, I realized that the reaction was that intense because the prompt delivery of packages to homeowners was very important to a security guard. That was one of his responsibilities. He also did not have an idea what was inside the package, so the longer it stayed is in his possession, the higher the level of unease. With that in mind, I was glad that I did not respond negatively to the security guard who was just taking his role at heart. He might have still overreacted, but it was fully understandable and should never warrant a strong negative response on my part.

There are great many benefits that we can reap from being able to shift our perspective. One benefit of which is that shifting our perspective opens up new possibilities. From a state of fear to a state of tense excitement, a person can become a willing participant in activities that he or she does not want to be a part of. My eldest daughter used to not want to join games or competitions, because she was fearful of losing or being laughed at.

After some years, though, she realized that losing is just one of the many possible outcomes of participating in games. Such a realization did not remove the sting of losing, but it did open up the possibility of other outcomes apart from losing. Other outcomes include winning or even losing, but still having fun with other players. That change in perspective allowed her to slowly become less fearful of joining games.

Imagine if we, adults, could do the same in our careers, relationships, or our personal growth initiatives. Maybe there is a learning activity that you have been putting off because of fear. What if you could shift your perspective and open yourself to other possibilities, such as being successful in that endeavor? Imagine what that can do to your personal growth.

More sensitive and informed decision-making that can sustain or heal relationships is another outcome that I can think of when it comes to being able to shift your perspective. Today’s world is more interconnected than ever; hence, our decisions would impact more and more people. Being able to shift our perspective allows us to have a better understanding of the impact of our decisions on other people.

During this quality time with my kids, there is some level of understanding among us three that I would be fully engaged with them over the span of three days. Of course, there are other responsibilities that I have to attend to every now and then while I am with my daughters. My eight-year old, who, just the other day “reprimanded” me for always being on my phone, decided that she would be more of my helpmate rather than my child when these other responsibilities started coming up. Especially since my wife is currently traveling for work, my eldest did not make a big fuss when I informed her that I could no longer bring them to the swimming pool, as I promised the day before. She accepted the circumstance and acted like a mature child looking after her younger sister as I sat in front of my laptop. She probably understood the position I am currently in and decided to make life easier for me through her response and actions.

In our professional relationships, we sometimes take for granted how our words, actions, or decisions would affect others. Sometimes, we delay holding a conversation with our staff on work performance, simply because we are worried how our staff would take what we had to say negatively. Did we ever think of the alternative, of the other perspective? That our staff would be grateful to us when we provide feedback that would be beneficial to their growth? Shifting our perspective not only pushes us to act, but it also gives us an insight into how we should act. In this scenario, it is no longer just about giving feedback, but us having a conversation with our staff to help them grow and develop.

A few months back, I wrote about how words matter: that if you have the appropriate words, speak them, write them, never hold them back. Prior to expressing our words, however, we should learn how to shift our perspective. Our ability to shift perspectives allows us to have the appropriate words that would definitely matter.

Anton Ng is a partner, Audit & Assurance of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 partners and over 850 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to or For more information, visit our Website:


As published in The Manila Times, dated 15 November 2017