Our mindset connects or disconnects us with others—there are a number of ways we can “see” others from an inward mindset. Traditionally, Arbinger has categorized these three ways of seeing others as obstacles, vehicles or simply irrelevant.
When I’m seeing someone as an obstacle, I see them as “in my way”, or as a hindrance to what I’m seeking to accomplish. When I’m seeing someone as a vehicle, I use them to get me what I want, or where I need to go. They might have information or connections that are valuable to me, so I “play nice” until I get what I want. When someone is irrelevant to me, I don’t care about them and likely don’t allow their humanity to impact me in any way.
All three of these labels are ultimately ways that I objectify others. When I’m seeing someone as an obstacle, vehicle or irrelevancy, I’m not seeing them as a human being with needs, concerns, hopes and fears similar to my own. Think of someone who you struggle to see as a person. Perhaps they get on your nerves frequently, or perhaps you avoid them at all costs. This person might be a coworker, a family member, a neighbor—someone with whom you feel your relationship could improve. How do you see this particular person? Are they often an obstacle? A vehicle? Mostly irrelevant?
If the person you have in mind feels like an obstacle to you, consider how you might not be receiving their goodness or kindness.
If this person feels more like a vehicle to you, contemplate what needs they might have that you’re failing to see? Are you looking to simply “get”, or are you willing to give?
For someone you’re seeing as irrelevant, what must it feel like for him or her to feel ignored, barely noticed or hardly cared about?
Have you ever been seen as an obstacle, a vehicle or irrelevant? How did it feel? Ponder what underlying qualities you might be missing in the person you’re thinking of. What might the people who love them see in them?