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How to Put Yourself in Other People's Shoes
It is often asked of us to place ourselves into other people's shoes. This is, of course, a request to see the perspective from the other person's side, to try to empathize with their view and see things as they do. It is a tactic aimed at helping you to understand where someone is coming from even if everything they do or say jars with you or causes you to feel negatively about them. Ultimately, the aim is not about agreement but about reaching an understanding of what motivates and compels the other person, so that you may find the middle road to compromise, acceptance and perhaps even friendship.
Listen more and speak less.Listen when a person wants to discuss a difficult situation with you. Realize that many other people around them may not be listening and what they are looking for is an open, all-ears person who will say nothing unless advised to do so.
- Sometimes your friend or someone you barely know just needs someone to talk to. It is best to just listen because some people don't want to discuss it back and forth, sometimes they just need people to Listen, that is it, listen and not say anything because it could be a sensitive subject or they just don't want a full on conversation.
Wait to speak.Once they are finished talking, ask them if you can say something, then say that you feel that you have a better understanding of where they are coming from after listening to their perspective. Do not attempt to usurp their memory of the matter or try to make it seem as if your own experience is better, worse, stronger, deeper; instead, acknowledge their experience for what it is and make it clear that you've heard and that you are remaining open-minded.
- If it seems appropriate, you can say something along the lines of: "I feel for you. Nobody deserves to be treated that way." Or, "I am here for you and I am so sorry that happened. I would be hurt if someone spoke to me like that/did that to me too. I am here for you."
Remind yourself at all times that everyone has challenges to face; indeed, there is a wonderful saying that:"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."This is an acknowledgment that every person has something challenging going on deep inside that is impossible to see from the surface. Added to the social requirement on people to be tough and to not air their hardships, this causes people to bottle it up and put on a front in public. This can also lead to seeming more stubborn, difficult or uncaring that is really the case, because it's all about seeming to be coping. Give people the space to let down their defenses and to give their side of the story a chance to be heard.
Be accepting.Everyone makes mistakes; things happen that are not purposefully wrong but which were out of the person's control. Most people try the hardest that they can to do things the right way, to overcome obstacles and to be good people. Sometimes the difference between turning "to the dark side" and no longer caring or remaining hopeful and continuing to strive resides in the moment when a person, such as yourself, steps in and says "It's okay, it was a mistake, you have learned and will now be able to move on." So, the next time someone goes through something terrible, think first, never make a judgments about their mistakes because everyone makes them. Be sensitive and listen.
Video: How To Stop Caring What Other People Think - Put Yourself First
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