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Does A Shoe Have to Fit To Wear It?

Updated on May 27, 2009
Photo by Samira Kahn
Photo by Samira Kahn

Stepping Into Your Shoes

What size shoe do you wear? No, I do not have a shoe fetish. The reason I’m asking is so I’ll be prepared when I try to put them on. Looking at the view from my own shoes, I do not nearly ever see everything as clearly as I can. By stepping into your shoes and looking at the situation from your view, I still may not agree, but at least I hope to have a little more insight into where you are coming from and -- most likely -- I will get a slight glimpse at where you are going, too. I am usually pretty good at that. You can be, too. It is as simple as a lesson most of us learned in grade school.

I’m a writer. Unless you are a writer too, it is might be bit easier for me to put myself in your shoes than it may be for you to put yourself in mine. Occasionally, I have been known to write some fiction. No, I’ve never published (but have not tried to as yet), but one does not have to be published to have insight into human nature.

Still, I am practically a professional (avid) reader -- except I do not get paid to do that either. So, regardless of the avenue my expertise on the subject takes, I do know this: a writer has to be able to look at a situation from more than one angle. An author of fiction needs to know who is character is:  what his character is going to say, when she is going to say it, how she is going to say it, why she is going to say it and where she is going to say it. Otherwise, that character is flat and one-dimensional. How does the author know all this? He understands human nature and how it works.

Photo by The Nestor
Photo by The Nestor

Fun with Dick and Jane

Ah….that old who, what, when, where, why and how stuff. We learned that in grade school, remember? I do not know about your teacher, but my teacher did not have the vision to turn that lesson into something that we all could use. Still, it was quite useful for the ones who were going to grow up to be writers.

What does Sally do when Spot tries to chase her?  See Sally run.  Run, Sally, run!  Why does Sally run? Simply put, she runs because Spot is chasing her. On a slightly higher level, Sally runs because it is human nature for someone to run if someone or something is chasing them. Sure, that is not rocket science, because, really, everyone is probably saying, “Duh, Connie! I knew that!” Sure you did -- most of us do -- but the point is: Does it really register to you that by knowing that, you are actually using your own insight in human nature?

How To Try On Someone Else's Shoes

Big companies use role playing in sales training sessions all the time. You know why? By taking on an unfamiliar role, the trainee is forced to think differently about a given situation because of the character he is going to play. Role playing is used to gain insight into the reasoning and the motivation of the character. The trainee is putting himself into someone else’s shoes.

For instance, if a sales trainee, by role playing, is forced to act like the disgruntled customer of XYZ Inc., he gets better insight into who he is really dealing with: why the customer is mad, what it takes to make the customer happy again, when the customer got mad (first time it happened, etc., where the customer expects changes to be made and how the customer acts when he gets mad.

When the salesman faces similar situations on the job, he is better equipped to handle the situation more effectively. He now knows to look at the situation from the point of view of the customer, hopefully saving the customer for the company. We can learn from that and use it in our every day life.

How, though, can we turn that training session into a life lesson? It is simple. Try consciously testing your own skills in human nature. The next time you meet someone, try to remember your first impression of him or her. Later, test that against what you've discovered about that person as time has passed.

Don't forget to put yourself in his shoes every now and again to gain the insight you need. You might learn something about yourself while you are at it! It takes time to learn observation skills, but learning how can save you from a lot of hurt from picking the wrong friends and lovers.

It is the key to understanding your fellow man and it is useful in every situation that you face in life. The stronger your understanding is of human nature, the more control you give yourself in dealing with any given situation. Believe me, it is pretty powerful stuff.

A word of caution though....people who try to put themselves in other's shoes can tend to use that technique to make excuses for other's actions. That is not what I am trying to get anyone to do. "He was upset with his boss and that is why he took it out on me...." In that instance, it is harmful, not helpful. My take on that particular situation would be, "He takes his own frustrations out on others, so I'm going to kick him straight to the curb!"

Give me ten minutes in someone’s presence and I usually have them pegged. I am rarely wrong when it comes to (and I hesitate to use the word) judging the character of a new acquaintance. Why is it so important to be able to read (a better word) human nature? You may think I am just cynical but, believe me, it saves a lot of grief in the long run.

While that makes it sound like I make snap decisions to like or not like someone, that falls way short of the truth. What it does is give me a basis for future observations of character. Most of the time, I find that I was right the first time, but no one should be judged (or read) permanently based on a ten minute conversation. I rarely take an immediate and final dislike of someone based on such short acquaintance. Still, if I even feel dislike (which is rare) or detect jealousy, envy or egotism (and many more), I always proceed with caution.

I am a true believer that knowledge is power. If you know someone is envious or jealous, or even spiteful at times, that doesn’t mean you can not deal with them and even be ‘friends’ with them. They are just people who need to be dealt with a bit differently. Forewarned is forearmed, so they say.

People lose the power to hurt you if you know who they really are, not just the persona that they portray. Where can insight into human nature be particularly effective? Unlike personal relationships, you cannot always choose those you deal with at work, but we cannot always choose our family either. I find that personal relationships are so much easier to deal with when we really know who our friends are, what our friends and family are really like and why they act as they do, so that we know how to change or deal with the situation to our advantage.

By now, it is ingrained in me. I put myself in other’s shoes and try to look at life from their angle. I can better see what their motivation is and where they are going with it, at least most of the time. I have made a few wrong calls, but do you know why? It is when I allow my emotions to rule the situation. How can I stop being so emotional? Take off your shoes; I need to borrow them.


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    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Loved your hub, interesting and insightful. Voted up. Love the way you write.

    • Connie Smith profile image

      Connie Smith 8 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      Very nice of you, Linda. When I get comments like you've just made from someone whose work I admire greatly, it is so encouraging to me.

      Over the years, as a mother does, I have made various observations of my daughter's friends. I had to smile when I heard my daughter on the phone with her husband the other day. They were talking about an employee of their company who they weren't sure that they were going to keep. As one basis for her argument, she simply said, "My mom does not like him." She did not have to explain further to him. It gave me a very good feeling to know how much my daughter respects my opinion on human nature.

      I will be back to read more of your work and look forward to reading your take on empathy. Thanks for stopping by.

    • lindagoffigan profile image

      lindagoffigan 8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi Connie, this is Linda over for a visit and as one of the other commenter said, was interesed in your article from beginning to end.

      Your writing is consistent and it was quite amazing how you kept the questioning W's relevant throughout your writing. You are who you are and I would be happy knowing that I have found a way to really put myself in someone else's shoes.

      The word for putting yourself in other people shoes is called empathy. Empathy is a subject that I have written a lot about especially when writing about relationships. I think that is why we connected so well reading each other's material.

      With the understanding of where another person is coming from in life, can cause a reduction in misunderstandings which makes for a more peaceful world.

      Your mastery of keeping the reader interested and your earnest interpretation of human nature will keep you a great writer as you are.

      Connie, "Does a Shoe Have to Fit to Wear It" is a great hubpage article and a great read.

    • Connie Smith profile image

      Connie Smith 8 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      Thanks, Tom.   I'm not surprised that you are the type of person to put yourself into someone else's shoes.  You've always struck me as being more intelligent than the average bear  :)

    • Tom Koecke profile image

      Tom Koecke 8 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

      This is an interesting Hub, Connie. I like the metaphor of being in another's shoes. I also have done that during thirty years in consumer credit, and in my year of transporting medical patients. I've received many compliments from people by simply listening to them and asking questions. By understanding their viewpoints, it was easier for me to persuade them when I was in credit, and, in the transporting business, comfort them.

    • Connie Smith profile image

      Connie Smith 8 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate both that and the comments! Thanks.

    • alittlebitcrazy profile image

      alittlebitcrazy 8 years ago

      Thanks for the thoughts to ponder, Connie. Enjoyed the hub!

    • Connie Smith profile image

      Connie Smith 8 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      Just sent you mine, and it's curious, remember? I always like to go with the flow....

    • Connie Smith profile image

      Connie Smith 8 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      LOL JamaGenee, maybe I just added that one because I am so curious. You know the first thing people say after something unexpected happens....HOW did that happen? At least, I am the first to ask it. My husband said I was nosy (in a very nice way, of course), but I've always prefered curious. It has a better flow to it, I think. At any rate, I like the complete picture and if you do not know how, how can you have that? :)

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Absolutely wonderful! Loved the shoe angle, and the pic! Don't remember any teachers talking about the Five Ws (who, what, when, where, why) until Journalism in high school. Oddly, "how" was never mentioned...perhaps it was assumed it would be covered in reporting the Ws.

    • Connie Smith profile image

      Connie Smith 8 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      Thanks, Jen! Yes, I could use those blue shoes for my vacation. Normally, that is not my style. Isn't it strange that some of us dress a bit differently when we go away? LOL As always, I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 8 years ago from Delaware

      Connie, It was a pleasure to read another winner by you! As usually you get a thumbs-up from me. Keep up the interesting and thought-provoking work.

      Oops, forgot to mention, LOVE THE SHOES! LOL

      ~ Jen

    • Connie Smith profile image

      Connie Smith 8 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      Thank you, Bad. I love to hear compliments about my writing! I'm sure you know as well how encouraging that is. Alas, I am def single. Tis not something I wished for, but me husband passed away.

    • profile image

      BadCompany 8 years ago

      That was a really great read and kept me interested right to the last sentence. A lovely lady and a redhead with a great writing style, are you single ; )