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Effective Communication Requires Empathy

Updated: Feb 6, 2021

In order to be heard, you must be willing to hear. No one will care what you have to say if they don't feel like you're trying to understand where they are coming from. The way you see something is just that, the way YOU see it. Everyone is entitled to their own perspective, and the more you understand this the more you are able to empathize with why they may feel the way they do. Miscommunication comes from only accepting one-way interpretations of information.

Is it a "six" or a "nine"

If you took the number "six" and placed it in front of you, you would always see it as such... a six. However, if you took someone else and placed them across from you, what number would they see? Based on their perspective they would see a "nine". So who is right, and who is wrong?

Reality is based on the way we see things, and the way we see things is based on what we've experienced in life. So in this scenario neither of them would be wrong. They are both seeing "their own version of truth" based on what life has taught them so far about identifying these numbers. Often times in this situation a person would find it hard to accept it being anything other than the number they see, i.e. what they see from their perspective. And holding on to the notion that they are right beyond belief, tension and arguments can arise if anyone tries to challenge it.

However, by simply allowing the thought that it's possible for someone else to perceive something different based on where they stand, i.e. their personal road in life, you are now entering into the world of empathy. Now you change focus to trying to understand why a person sees it the way they do, instead of only trying to force them to share your perspective.

This same concept applies when looking at circumstances and situations as well. Just because you see it one way, doesn't mean that it's the only way to look at it. Allow that just as certain as you are that it means a certain thing to you based on your experience, that it means just as much to them based on theirs. Approaching all conversations from this understanding will help define a middle ground. Even if you don't get to a place of agreement, by simply understanding you greatly reduce the amount of conflict you have, and give more conversations the chance to reach a soluble resolution.

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