Walking on someone else's shoesEmpathy: noun – Identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives. {Dictionary.com}

Empathy and creativity are some of the required personal assets to succeed in today’s world. Empathy is a two way street, it is nice to receive and to give. Do you know people that have a hard time giving empathy? They seem to be challenged when they need to understand how the other side feels. Specially when it relates to people from a different culture.

Be not disturbed at being misunderstood.

Be disturbed at not understanding. – Chines Proverb

This is not only important in personal life, it is also vital for the professional world. We build strong human connections, when we are able to understand the other side. Friends, colleagues, vendors, partners. etc., play a big role on how rich and fulfilling our life is. Technology has knocked down frontiers, we no longer communicate or work with people from our home town. We are now forming relationships with people on the other side of the planet.

I always say, is no fun to do it alone. When was the last time you had a hard time putting yourself on someone else’s shoes? I want to invite to go back and think of a moment in the past weeks, that you were challenged by someone else differences. I want you to mentally go back and play the situation in slow motion, and as you do this, slowly put yourself on the other person’s shoes and get curious. How does life look from the other side? what are the feelings? How can you give empathy and remove the barriers that kept you from understanding the other side?

Acknowledging another’s feelings is the key to demonstrating empathy. *The following exercise will help you try your skills at using empathy when facing diversity, by writing down your empathetic responses to the following statements:

Example: “Why all the emphasis on diversity lately? Aren’t we all more the same than different?”

Possible feelings: threat, frustration, concern, irritation, alienation, discomfort

Empathetic response: Most of us are more comfortable with similarities. Differences can be challenging to deal with.

1. “How am I supposed to deal with people I can’t understand or communicate with? Doesn’t anyone speak English anymore?”

Possible feelings:

Empathetic response:

2.“Why Do I have to adapt to them? They are from an inferior culture, they should adapt to us”

Possible feelings:

Empathetic response:

3. “I am tired of people asking me where I’m from. All they notice about me is that I’m ‘foreigner’.”

Possible feelings:

Empathetic response:

4. “I thought this was a free country. Why do I have to watch what I say just because somebody is thin-skinned?

Possible feelings:

Empathetic response

Resisting the temptation to judge others, can be of great value. Always consider your impact on others, and let your curiosity take you beyond your own perspectives.

Photo by: MichaelEC

*Exercises based on EIDI (Emotional Intelligence and Diversity Institute) teaching method. If you are a professional wanting to learn more about EIDI courses you can contact me.