How can I imagine another's experience to enhance my caring and compassion for them?
Empathy is seeing through the eyes of another, and feeling their feelings. Empathy is a personal understanding of the other person's perspective. Whether that person is a customer, peer, boss or subordinate, empathy with that person will enhance the relationship. The song called the Colors of the Wind from the movie Pocahantas states "when you walk in the footssteps of another you'll learn things you never knew you never knew."
What to do:
- Put yourself in the other person's "chair" or "walk in their shoes" prior to a meeting or a session of leadership counseling.
- During the discussion, match the person's body posture and gestures as a way to understand their worldview.
- Use the other person's key phrases and ideas in your summaries of what they say.
- Remember when you have been in a similar situation.
- Ask the person to help you put yourself in their shoes or to experience their worldview.
- Mentally, pretend to have the other person's beliefs, values, and personal history, to activate your own empathy.
- Say to yourself: "I imagine what it is like to be the other person. I sit in their chair, walk in their shoes, understand their problems and feel their feelings.
- "Recognize "opportunities for empathy" as you encounter them in daily life such as when others have a problem.
- Read biographical books about people who possess well-developed empathy such as Nelson Mandela and Coach John Wooden.
- During conversations, match the other person's body, gestures and language to gain empathy for their experience.
- Whether that person is a customer, peer, boss or subordinate, empathy creates a felt knowledge that enhances relationships through mutual understanding and provides important emotional information for making decisions.
- For more detailed information about empathy, see the article, Empathy: A Key Leadership Skill
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