Walk a Mile

image-footstepsEmpathy– the ability to emotionally understand what another person is feeling.


The last week has been tough. Wherever you look, people’s emotions are on edge due to the recent election. People have taken sides and each group is having difficulty understanding the motives and reactions of the other group. Some people are elated, while others are feeling a multitude of things: disappointment, fear, anger and grief.


Being trained in Mental Health, I spend every waking hour observing others. It’s just something that I do instinctively. I don’t necessarily engage in feelings— I just observe from afar and try to understand why and how people are responding.


Friday, I met with a connection that told me she had spent time guiding a company on how to handle a physical fight between two workers on opposite sides of the political argument. Yes, people are on edge everywhere you look and that emotion inevitably seeps into our workplace.


There is a lack of empathy in much of our communication. I observe individuals demonstrating their own personal values, beliefs and attitudes about life. The problem is that they also expect others to adhere to those same values, beliefs and worldviews. Following last week, there appears to be a lack of understanding—

We have trouble making room for human differences and the inability to see that individuals don’t necessarily fit into neatly defined categories.


What I do see is a strong compelling need to demonstrate WHY I am right and I have the right way of thinking.


Nowhere is this more evident than on Social Media. Here, you see a total lack of empathy and a complete lack of the ability to imagine how others feel. You see individuals pushing their belief system on others while refusing to listen. You witness people expecting others to see things their way, and if they don’t, they are attacked. You observe people feeling the need to rationalize their beliefs and expecting others to support them— or else. Polarized thinking is rampant and stirs up anger, hate and decisiveness.


You see a whole lot of JUDGEMENT but very little empathy.


As humans, we are a complicated species. Each one of us has a worldview made up of values, attitudes and beliefs based on our many life experiences. You won’t understand me unless you actively listen, without judgment, to where I am coming from and what I feel. I won’t understand you unless I actively listen, without judgment, to where you are coming from and what you feel.


Until this happens, we won’t have successful communication and understanding propecia dosage.


So how do you ensure that EMPATHY is part of your Leadership toolkit?

You become more Empathetic by practicing these skills daily.


  1. Use your energy to actively listen to others and understand how they are feeling.
  2. Refrain from minimizing others’ feelings and rationalizing about your own feelings.
  3. Hold yourself back from making judgments about others that think differently than you. Just meet them where they are.


Remember during this time that empathy is the ability to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Truly live up to this standard.




The Art of Optimism

image glass half fullI have a friend that struggles to stay positive. Whatever happens in her life, she imagines the worst possible scenario. She has difficulty accepting that her situation is often just temporary and that it’s possible for things to turn around and improve. Frankly, she thinks people that who are optimistic are just kidding themselves. Her belief is that in real life, things don’t work out the way you want.


Do you know anyone with this perspective on life?


Elizabeth Tenney, a Professor of Business Management at the University of Utah, was curious about the role that optimism played in the workplace. What she found surprised her. Her research concluded that optimism didn’t help a person improve their performance as much as she had initially thought. However, the research revealed that having optimism helped individuals to stick with an arduous task and persevere. As you can imagine, this would be an important quality to possess in the workplace.


A show of hands please— how many of you would like to spend your workday surrounded by pessimistic colleagues? How about optimistic colleagues? That’s what I thought.


Martin Seligman, who has done vast research surrounding this topic, explains 0ptimism as the ability to always view the positive side of the situation. No matter how dark and discouraging things look, an optimistic individual has the ability to see the upside and know that things will work out. Pessimists have difficulty seeing the upside of any situation that exists in their life. They assume that things will stay bad forever. Optimists, on the other hand, view their current situation as only temporary. Deep down, they believe that things will improve soon and it only takes some patience to wait it out.


In today’s world, the workplace can be stressful. Whether you’re working in a corporate environment, or as an entrepreneur, the expectations and rules to succeed are constantly changing and evolving. Your ability to ride the wave through the good times and bad is essential to your success. Having an optimistic perspective enables you to see the possibilities and be creative in your problem solving.


Your ability to be resilient is the key ingredient to you and your workers achieving your goals.


There are going to be good days and bad days at the job— sometimes you’ll just want to give up. However, you must learn to persevere and drown out the distracting noise around you. Sometimes the most distracting noise is happening right inside your own head. I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to retrain your brain. With practice, you can learn to view these times as temporary setbacks that will soon turn around. If you’re determined to change, you can become a much more optimistic person.


I’m quite optimistic that things can change for you.


imagesstressI have a weekly ritual that I haven’t changed for 15 years. I make out my grocery list Sunday morning and do my shopping later that day. I never deviate from going to my favorite store that always has everything I need. One of the reasons that I’ve stuck with this store is because I know that checking out is consistently fast.


Anyway, one week, while I was checking out, I noticed this woman working two lanes down. She was ringing people up and talking to them the whole time. There was an energy about her that made her special. She didn’t take the smile off her face and she ended the experience by singing a little song. Not only did the customers seem happy by the time they left but it was apparent that the other workers loved her too.


Four days ago, I needed to run into the store to pick up a few things for dinner. When I came to the checkout lanes, I scanned to see if my favorite worker was there. I spotted her working two lanes down, doing her job with a smile on her face. I proceeded to get in the lane and wait for my experience. However, the person ahead of me was having some difficulty with her order. Many of the cashiers crowded around to try to help as the situation turned into a long process. I questioned whether I should pick up all my groceries on the belt and move them to another lane, but I didn’t want to lose my chance to spend time with my favorite cashier.


The whole snafu probably took 10 extra minutes but it felt like much longer. I watched my favorite cashier keep her composure and handle the situation. I realized that at times, I was feeling frustrated but I reminded myself to have a little patience and let the feeling pass.


When it was my turn to be rung up, she brightly greeted me and started a conversation. As we continued to talk, she thanked me for having so much patience. She shared that she really had to work on her attitude while attending to the previous customer. I admitted that I also had to focus on keeping calm and not getting frustrated. The exchange ended with us laughing a bit and she eventually pulled at my hand, encouraging me to join her in song about her store. I walked out in a really great mood.


When I was driving home, I gave thought to the whole experience. Being a cashier at a grocery store was probably not this woman’s dream career. However, I’ve never met anyone that seemed to have such a great time at work. I believe her comment about working on her attitude had much to do with it. She wanted to enjoy life and live in the moment. She was capable of finding a way to ride the waves and look on the bright side, even when things didn’t go her way. She was aware of her thoughts and feelings and how that translated into her behavior.


It was obvious that she made the best of life even when it wasn’t perfect. This resilient woman CHOSE to live a vibrant, happy life. The effect on others was incredible.


I hope that I get to see her the next time I go shopping.