I picked this idea up from Dale Emery, in his excellent “Resistance as a Resource” talk at AYE, which is based on a paper available at his website. He shared a story of an HR manager who spoke with disdain about a group of people at their company as “resistors” to change; in their case to company organizational change. Dale suggested that rather than think about “resistors” who resist all changes, instead think of “people are who resisting this change, now”. Then consider that they are perhaps “responding” to the change, rather than automatically resisting.
Now the point of all this is not to lie to yourself, nor to see others differently from how they truly are. Rather it is to be open to seeing others in more than one way, to learning new information about them and their needs, concerns, goals. Out of that learning, is likely to emerge more useful ways of responding to them and of finding common ground.
It is remarkable how different a situation can seem, based on the words you choose to describe it… so try some variations in the words you use.