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One of the most important constructive conflict responses is perspective taking. This behavior involves trying to see an issue from another person’s perspective. A common description is trying to “put yourself in the other person’s shoes.”

Most people admit that perspective taking can be challenging. We often believe we are right and the other person is wrong. This attitude makes it harder to consider other people are thinking and why they see things the way they do.

Perspective taking can be even more difficult when we are upset. When we are angry or afraid, our own ability to use perspective taking can be compromised. Negative emotions can narrow our focus and limit our capacity to think broadly. Conversely, fostering more positive emotions helps us to open up and view things from a wider perspective.[1] These types of emotional self-regulation practices can be very beneficial in improving perspective taking skills.

[1] Frederickson, B., The Role of Positive Emotions in Positive Psychology: The Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions, American Psychologist, 2001, 56(3), 218-226.