Putting Yourself Into Someone Else's Shoes
There are many sayings in our culture that share the same meaning: “put yourself in their shoes,” “look at the situation through someone else’s eyes,” or even “one man’s trash is another’s treasure.” We’ve all heard these so many times, they go right over our heads and are quickly forgotten.
But they shouldn’t be.
Can empathy really coexist within when we have the ego wanting to always be the center of attention? I often wonder if people could actually step back and not think of themselves and feel the other's perspective? Sure there are moments that we say, " I can recognize the situation", but it is inevitable that it is brought back to something that can be relatable. This mostly happens when you are dealing with Narcissistic people. Now I know what you are thinking that word has been thrown around like it's nothing, but in order to understand, you should comprehend that Narcissism is something that is found in all of us. Some of us just have the filter that tells us to not act that way. So the reason for many frustrations is because we feel that we are misunderstood. Not heard or just plainly ignored.
Expectation: I call up a friend to tell her about something that happened on the way to work and how I felt frustrated that I couldn't get my project done on time. She reassured me that everything was going to be ok and that I will get things done like I always do.
Reality: I call up a friend and she picks up the phone, but her toddler is crying she's yelling at her child and tells you a million and one time to wait. As soon as you start to talk she interrupts and tells you that your life is perfect and to stop complaining about nonsense.
How would you feel after the phone call?
Even more frustrated?
Hurt and just wanting to throw the phone because yet again you were not heard or empathized. How can this scenario almost meet your expectation? Recognizing that your friend is not in the state of mind to be there for you the way you need. Making sure that you practice empathy as well! If you only consider your own feelings and perspective, you’re leaving out the other seven billion people on this planet and missing out on seven billion other stories.
Every single person has lived a different life. Even identical twins who grew up in the same household are going to have different life experiences that give them different perspectives on events, thoughts, arguments, people, religious beliefs – anything and everything. All that someone has dealt with in their life has to lead up to this moment where you are facing them and forced to make a decision between staying stubborn in your own thoughts and forever having this issue with this person or being empathetic to their side of the story and building rather than destroying.
So how do you do this?
Don’t take everything personally. Sometimes it's really not about you at all! Again our ego conditions us to think that we did something wrong. But remember that they may be going through something as well.
Active Listening: You probably have heard of this technique. It’s about as powerful a skill as I’ve ever seen come out of psychology. And it’s very simple. If you find yourself in a conflict or rift with someone, stop the decision-making for a moment and simply repeat in your own words, the other person’s argument as persuasively as possible. Then ask whether you heard it right. And then wait for an answer.
Be kind and respectful. Do your best to make the person see that you’re trying to understand and support them. Attacking someone or being on the offense isn’t helpful to anyone. Hopefully, they’ll take the same calm and patient path you do and any arguments will turn into intelligent conversations that further both party’s understanding of the problem.
I’ve always liked to think that there are two sides to every story and that most people deserve a second chance. In most situations, this is true and should be recognized as much as possible.
Everyone is coming from a different place in their life, even you, so people aren’t always going to see eye-to-eye about everything. Make sure you hear someone out before coming in with your own issues and really listen to what they’re saying.