I find this to be a very difficult question to answer. Especially when it comes to issues of all kinds: relationships, family, work, projects, etc……
When trying to answer how many sides are there, you first need to be aware (and accept) that there is always more than one. We bring our own unique experience, knowledge and understanding and this always dominant in looking at things. So, this is the primary side but not the only one.
But I have found that there are always more sides that need to be considered. Sometimes it involves types of technical knowledge. I was reminded of this recently in having an outside company review our ecommerce store where their expertise was in an area we hadn’t considered before. Sure enough, they brought up issues about our site that we never considered and now must be addressed.
Emotion, ego, self defense, agression, blind passion, all lend themselves to looking at situations from a different side. Sometimes a selfish side. Sometime a side that is hidden from us. Other times we are guilty of this type of behavior but don’t realize it because we are not very self-aware.
So before feeling good about an outcome or an approach that you will use to improve a situation or solve a problem, stop and ask yourself the question “how many sides are there”.
My guess and experience says that there are more than you think. Exposing them consciously will help you better see both biases and weaknesses in your approach before acting on what you believe. This analysis is not meant to paralyze nor delay implementation. It is meant to help clarify your thinking and help you build towards better, more complete approaches.
It is meant as a small quality control step in helping you make better decisions or choices that will lead to better outcomes.