Life Tip #76

Empathy is the best, nay only, way to move about this world full of people.

People, right? You can’t live with them….

People can really be annoying. People can really tick us off. People can really be first class jerks.

I used to always see the bad in people and get irritated or angry with them for what I viewed to be their flaws. But with age comes wisdom, and in this case, wisdom takes the form of empathy. I’ve learned over the years to place myself in the other person’s shoes, to try to see the world through their eyes, to understand the reasons behind what they do. To understand why they, or their behavior, might be so annoying.

If someone cuts me off in traffic, for example, instead of pounding on my horn, I now try to empathize with the reason they are in a rush or the cause of their rudeness. Perhaps they are belittled and dumped on all day long, and driving in their car is the only place they feel empowered. I just get out of the way, let them have that, and pray they don’t kill themselves or anyone else.

If my boss is nitpicky and overly demanding, I try to imagine what struggles—in other areas of his or her life—make him that way. I should try to ease his suffering.

If a coworker feels the need to talk my ear off and tell me every little thing going on in her life, every day, I should listen politely and try to be a friend. It could be that she is ignored by her spouse and kids every single day of her life, thus her need for attention.

People are annoying and can be downright crappy to us. But we should try using empathy to understand what’s making them that way. It very likely stems from a completely unrelated aspect of their lives.

“Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” ~ Unknown

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