OK, it’s not the most friendly Bob Dylan song ever (in fact, I’d hate to have been the person he wrote this about!), but Positively 4th Street has a lyric in it that really resounds.
“I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment
I could be you”
This was written to a person with whom it seems Mr. Dylan was having a major feud. He was clearly angry and upset, and felt that communication was not working, since neither one could truly empathize with the other. If they could put themselves in each other’s shoes, perhaps they could experience some kind of meeting of the minds.
What a powerful concept, and one that could be used to much advantage at both work and home.
How would you feel if you knew the person you were communicating with actually felt what you were feeling and experienced what you were experiencing? Would it make you feel more comfortable in dealing with that person? Trust them more? Be happier about dealing with them?
It is not easy to be truly empathetic. According to dictionary.com, the definition of empathy is: the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
Most people find it challenging enough already to identify with their own feelings and thoughts, much less someone else’s. However, trying to do as Bob Dylan says, and put yourself in someone else’s shoes, might actually help you understand yourself a bit better.
Working with co-workers, clients, children, friends and acquaintances all requires a certain amount of empathy. Why not try honing that skill and see if you don’t get some positively positive results!