by Jim Stovall

Any fact, any opinion, any observation, and any communication can only be judged in light of the perspective of the individual who is communicating. All of us have a perspective which is the way that we judge a situation or weigh the various elements of a given circumstance.

As a blind person, I have the opportunity to travel to various places utilizing friends or colleagues as my eyes. This is a fascinating process, because I experience a location based upon my companion's perspective. I can go to the same place with two different people and have a totally different perspective.

Recently, I have met a colleague from the television industry named Terri Walker. Terri and I have gotten together on a couple of occasions to have a quick lunch, get to know one another, and discuss our mutual interest in the broadcast industry. I have the advantage of being able to learn a lot about Terri very quickly because, not only do I hear the words during our conversations, I experience Terri's perspective of the environment which gives me great insight into who she is and what she thinks or feels.

Many conflicts -- be they business, personal, or global -- can be moved quickly toward resolution if all parties understand the opposing perspective. Dr. Stephen Covey has said, "Seek to understand before seeking to be understood." This is a conflict resolution technique that can work well in all situations. The opposing parties must understand and articulate the other perspective before discussing their own. This kind of insight into other people's thoughts and feelings cannot only solve conflicts, but can help to avoid them before they start.

The next time an individual or group opposes you in a business or personal situation, before attacking them, ask yourself, "What set of circumstances has existed in the past that would lead them to have a perspective that would result in their current actions?" Understanding their perspective will go a long way toward defusing the situation. Never be afraid to simply ask, "Can you share with me why you feel the way you do about this situation?" Even if the two of you are going to "agree to disagree," people will highly value the fact that you are seeking to understand their perspective.

As you go through your day today, remember it is better to avoid a conflict through understanding than to win one.

Today's the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author, columnist, and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082, or by e-mail at

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Copyright 2002 by Jim Stovall. All rights reserved.

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