Richard Boston outlines four broadening perspectives. I have included some elaborations from Jacqueline Conway’s article to help us distinguish between them.
The first-person perspective - we’re concerned only with our point of view: ‘this is what I think; this is how I feel.’
The second-person perspective - the thoughts and feelings of another person, we take the stance of: ‘I can understand and appreciate how you feel – even if I don’t agree.’
The third-person perspective - allows us to take a more objective position.
In the third-person perspective you might ask, ‘What’s really going on here?’ It’s in this space that we lift ourselves up to take the helicopter view. Crucially, we resist ‘taking on’ one or other of the points of view of the individuals involved and instead look at the interaction and the situation without the biases, filters and mind traps that are inevitable when we occupy either the first- or second-person perspective.
The fourth-person perspective - above all of the noise of multiple perspectives, there’s a deeper structure to what’s going on.
The ability to take this meta-perspective is what’s required in the fourth-person ‘witness’ perspective. From this stance, we’re aware of the context in which relationships play out. We see that there is a deep structure to the nature of the problem and that the people involved are often unwittingly caught up in that structure.