It’s easy to become so focused on our own experience that we forget that other people exist. In relationships, walking in someone else’s shoes is a great approach to really understanding other people and helps us build empathy for others. Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s experience and point of view.
People often ask me why it is that someone does such and such or this and that. I suggest that we can figure out what people are going through and understand them much better if we just put ourselves in their situation. In this way, we can learn about them without projecting our own needs and opinions on them. Try a few of the following things to increase your empathic ability:
1. Listen actively without talking.
2. Put yourself in that person’s situation and imagine you are going through the same thing.
3. Ask questions that allow the person to tell you more about themselves instead of yes and no questions.
4. Keep in mind that what you are hearing isn’t about you; it’s about them.
5. Try to accept anything the person says as simply their reality rather than something you have to react to.
Try these a few times over a period of time. Empathy is about really understanding that there are other valid points of view in the world. Those perspectives may not be ours but they mean as much to that person as our worldview does to us. Once you can connect with someone else’s reality, you’re own your way to really understanding other people and showing them that you respect where they are coming from.