As always a person begins with their personal perspective. Since we are not a system, as Emerson suggests, we have the ability to understand things from another persons perspective. How do we do this and why is it important?
If we try to understand another person with our experiences only we will most likely not get anywhere easily in a conversation. It is difficult to understand something from our perspective only when reading a book, watching a movie, or the news. Even if you were to sit down on the edge of a field and look out across it from your perspective, only, you would still not completely understand your position among the landscape.
Looking at ideas, positions, definitions, explanations, and events from your perspective only means rigid thinking. A person outright refuses to weigh or consider any other view, idea, or perspective for the fact that they are unwilling to move their thinking to another position momentarily. This means that they believe, ultimately, that they are always right and the other side is always wrong.
We learn how to look at and understand various positions and perspectives by interacting with other people, by learning, studying, conducting experiments, gaining experience, and being flexible in our communication.
Being flexible in our communication means to take the experience and knowledge we have gained and think in the abstract. We ask ourselves what would this person, I’m talking to, think about this subject or question? What would they do in this situation? Also, how would they feel about this subject or specific issue? A person would know, already, by their experience with similar situations and similar people that there might be a comparison or contrast. Then we either ask them a question or make a statement based off of how they might understand it so they can understand what we are trying to say.
Trying to form an understanding of anthers perspective is not easy. Doing so takes careful consideration. A person might ask, what is the summation of everything they have done thus far and is it good or bad? What they do and what they are might be good but in a specific instance or specific subject there might be some ambiguity. This does not mean that they are a bad person. Some perspectives involve the individual characteristics, values, and principles of an individual.
Not considering that the other individual is not perfect puts you in the area of the rigid and judgmental thinker. If you believe you would have made a different choice or done something different without considering the difficulty of a situation, belief, or idea this is rigid and judgmental thinking as well. However, a person has to also look at the intent involved in the other persons or groups perspective. What is their ultimate goal and what is their ultimate purpose? This is why it is important to seek to understand another persons perspective.
We compare and contrast the other persons intent and goals to that of our own principles, values, and beliefs. We might have went about doing the same thing differently but since we are not them and we could never be them we include empathy to fill in the gaps in the portions of our understanding to where we do not understand.
As we seek to gain perspective, continue to seek understanding. This is important because everybody likes to be understood when something is important to them.