The Power of Empathy
I have spent a fair share of my career freelancing. It gave me the ability to bounce from shop to shop learning new things and allowed me the freedom to not get locked in on any one client or any one ideology. One of the biggest takeaways I’ve learned from freelancing all these years is how to deal with different personalities and temperaments and sometimes just putting the shoe on the other foot. I had a great CD that once told me,
Always try to put the shoe on the other foot before reacting to the situation, weigh the results and then act.
It’s easy in theory and it makes a lot of sense -- but in reality it’s very hard to do.
Try this next time you are in a meeting. Look around the room at each person. Now imagine what they had to go through just to be at that meeting. Sure, there is the guy who flew in from Chicago on the red eye. Then there is the stressed out woman who is roughing it through a messy divorce. The woman running late because she couldn't get child care. And the guy over there who couldn’t sleep a minute last night because he was worried about making a deadline – or worst – having to present at this very meeting.
I’m sure you've been in this situation before. Or one just like it. The meeting hasn’t started -- but it’s already ripe with expectations, obstacles and challenges. Now would be a good time to try and empathize. If you can do this – and I know it’s hard – you might be able to be a better communicator. Hopefully you will gain some insight on the situation and see how your presence is being absorbed.
The empathy I've learned here served me well so far and I hope it will do you wonders. Its takes a long time to learn and implement, but if you take a bit of time to figure out what is going on instead of reacting to what you think may be going on – it’s a very powerful tool that you can carry not only in your professional life, but in your personal one as well.
Nir Bashan is an executive creative director with over 16 years of advertising, entertainment and business development experience. He writes on topics covering advertising, media, creative solutions and workforce management. http://www.nirbashan.com/blog | firstname.lastname@example.org