Does A Shoe Have to Fit To Wear It?
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.
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.