In one of author Alan Zimmerman’s blogs called “Tuesday Tips,” he quotes Psychologist Jack Berg, who said, “the human mind reaches for understanding like a flower for the sun.” Zimmerman believes people yearn to be understood, and without understanding, we drive a wedge between others and us.

Take that idea of people yearning to be understood to the workplace – a place where cultures meet and collide. Ethnicity, socio-economics, personal style and hierarchy can divide us, making mutual understanding difficult. Yet, it’s one of the most important things we can do for one another. Often times, when we don’t seek to understand forces that contribute to a person’s less than expected performance, we don’t allow them to grow or overcome something that stands between them and their ability to achieve what we’re asking of them. As much as we’d like to believe that there are distinct lines between home and work, the two are inseparable. They inevitably bleed into each other and affect our ability to focus, perform, excel and show compassion. This is true for everyone, and it’s the reason it is critical, as well as mutually beneficial, that we give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

Stephen Covey said it best. “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.” To that end, Zimmerman suggests that we fight our urge to jump to conclusions and wait to make any judgments until we have the facts we need to truly understand the whole picture.

I agree. Doing so will help you understand your colleagues in a more complete way. The result: relationships will improve and the real issues affecting performance and teamwork can be addressed.