Apr 222012

The Shoes that you Choose


          This edition of the Pinnacle Perspective was delayed a bit due to the overwhelming amount of email that I received concerning the recent personal growth article.  The issue of having empathy for others has touched a nerve in many subscribers, and I received many emails that asked the basic question: “How can I become more empathic?”  The first step toward having greater empathy for those around you is to understand why someone behaves or feels as they do.

          Please allow me to issue a challenge to all of the subscribers of this ezine. I would like you to try a basic empathy-building exercise for at least five days.  Then, spend a bit of time reflecting on how that experience might change your view of the world.  What’s the exercise? I call it: the shoes that you choose.  Here are the directions for the exercise:

  1. Each day I would like you to “try on” another person’s experience of life. The person might be a store clerk that you interact with frequently, your boss, a neighbor, your child, or anyone else that you interact with frequently. 
  2. Observe that person for about 30 mintues. 
  3. Try to put yourself in that person’s place.  What is he thinking?  What is she feeling?  How is that person reacting to something that happens to him?  What has that person’s day been like? What problems might this person have in her life? Why does that person experience the world in the manner that he or she appears to do so. How does his experiences shape his overall temprement and the way in which he interacts with you?
  4. Now, put your own shoes back on and think about the people who you observed.
  5. Did any of your observations surprise you?  Can you understand why behave in the manner that they do after watching them in action? Do you feel differently about these people after having “tried on their shoes”?
  6. How will you alter your interactions with these people as a result of your observations of them?
  7. What did you discover about yourself and how you behave as a result of trying on each person’s shoes? 

Next week, I’ll be discussing how and why you should respond to people in an empathic manner. I can’t wait to hear about all of the things that you learn from this exercise.  Please email your comments to me at susan@uncommoncourtesy.com






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