How often have you found yourself in conflict with a teammate because you see something one way and he/she sees them another? Perspective is a powerful phenomenon. The ancient fable of several blind men describing an elephant illustrates this well. Each was touching the elephant in different places and consequently their perspectives were radically different. The blind man touching the ears believed the elephant to be flexible and almost flat. Touching the elephant's trunk lead one to certain knowledge that an elephant was like a snake. The legs, tusk and tail all gave a different perspective about the structure of the largest land mammal.

The dynamics of a team create similar differences in viewpoint. It is incumbent upon all team members to work at understanding their group's ideas, positions and situations. Here are four ways to better align your perspective with your teammates.

1. Leave "your side" and visit " their side." "There are truths on this side of the Pyranees, which are falsehoods on the other"- Blaise Pascal. Do whatever you can to discover your teammate's perspective. Listen to his/her goals, objectives and concerns. Read and study the source documents upon which they founded their position. Or figuratively cross the Pyranees and visit their place - their office, workspace or location. You may find this will be sufficient to alter your thinking. Understanding your teammate's viewpoint and knowing what is trying to be accomplished will allow you to see they too have the team's interest at heart.

2. Acknowledge the validity of your teammate's viewpoint. "Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds" - George Santayana. People's personal experiences and belief systems are diverse and complex. What you initially see as chaotic may simply be the other person's plan to reach the same goal. There can still be differences of opinion. Just because you initially see a solution a certain way doesn't necessarily mean it is right. If you work to find the legitimacy of a teammate's point of view, it will stretch your thinking and what seemed chaotic may begin to make sense.

3. Be aware of your attitude. "Is the glass half empty, half full, or twice as large as it needs to be?" - Author Unknown. When it comes to seeing things from another person's point of view, attitude has a huge impact. It is much easier to see both sides of an issue when you are not particularly concerned about the outcome. It becomes much harder when you have a vested interest in it. When that's the case, you may be more concerned with getting your way than making a way to connect with others. At the core is whether you are willing to change. When you don't want to change, you see the glass in only one way. When you are willing to change, they can be seen all three ways - half empty, half full or twice as big as it should be.

4. See the advice of other teammates. "Eventually you realize that not all opposing viewpoints come from people who oppose you" - Robert Brault. The key to understanding your teammate is empathy. Empathy is the identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives. With empathy it becomes much easier to connect with a teammate's point of view. Sometimes the easiest way to do this is to simply ask other teammates whose perspectives differ from what was discussed. It is in the sharing of ideas and the openness of your exchange that understanding begins to occur.

Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher in the 19th century said, "Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world." Highly effective teams don't limit themselves to one field of vision. To maximize helpfulness to your team learn how to understand your teammates' points of view. If all members of the team practice this approach success is much more possible to attain.

Author's Bio: 

Richard Highsmith,, is President of Quality Team Building. He has twenty-five years experience training and coaching. He has built and sold two successful businesses. To learn more about becoming a team leader visit our website at or call Rick toll-free at 1-888-484-8326 X101.