two people joining hands

Same Team

There’s a cartoon I love (but won’t search for because I’m writing this from a plane):

In the first panel, two people are standing facing each other, seeming angry, with a dark cloud that represents “the problem” filling the space between them.

They literally can only see each other through the haze of the problem.

In the second panel, the two people stand next to each other, side by side. “The problem” is still there, but it’s out in front of them now. 

They’re looking at it together, as a unit. It’s not coming between them anymore.

This shift in posture, or maybe perspective, is one of the ultimate ninja moves you can make in any kind of relationship.

Are you seeing the other person as an adversary? Or are you seeing them as on the same team? 

In other words: Is there a problem coming between you? Or a problem you’re working together to solve? 

This ally-oriented perspective seems obvious—sometimes.

Like when you and your colleague are figuring out how to set the marketing calendar for your client.

Or when you and your spouse are figuring out what happens now that your flight just got cancelled.

But it’s really easy to forget to see life this way.

Scarcity thinking and blame are automatic.

“If she were more reliable with deadlines, I wouldn’t have to clean up after her.”

“If he were better at taking care of himself in healthy ways, I wouldn’t end up shouldering so much of the emotional labor around here.”


These thoughts—and thus situations—can transform with Same Team thinking, though. 

“I wonder why she’s missing deadlines, and what it would take for us to have a set of agreements that works for both of us?”

“I feel tired and he seems tired too. I wonder how we can get more support so we’re both feeling like we can handle what’s in front of us?”

My partner and I literally put sticky notes that say “Same Team” up around the house.

We remind ourselves of this mantra whenever it starts to feel like one or the other of us IS the problem.

When we’re having hard conversations, we say it to each other: Same team.

Who in your life is feeling like The Problem? What might happen if you saw them as on the Same Team?

Collaboratively yours,


PS – This point of view gets super-charged in its potency when you’re co-committed with the other person to reminding yourself and each other of this perspective. Who could you forward this email to and tell you’d like to always be on the Same Team with them?

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