Who’s Shoe Is It Anyway?

Communication Skills Training Course Dublin

Ever been a pedestrian, a cyclist or a driver of a car? Ever get beeped and shouted at and felt like you didn’t deserve it and instantly hated the person who beeped and shouted at you?

I recall a situation, where whilst driving through Dublin city, (oh and being a woman of course!), I veered slightly into the incorrect lane at a junction (that I think, if truth be told most people would agree is slightly confusing). The guy in the car behind me, pulled up alongside me, rolled down his window and literally cursed and abused me all the way to the end of the road, a good half a mile. It was quite shocking. Yes for that half a mile or so, I was angry, and bordering on getting quite upset at his shouts, cursing and remarks. However, I kept my head together, told myself he must be having a bad day and eventually stated firmly and loud enough so that he could hear, ‘ It must be difficult being you’.

On that note, and following on from last weeks blog, I though it worthwhile to look at the rationale behind the focus of another of our processes at adaptas™. Our process ‘Who’s Shoe is it anyway?’ examines our ability to understand emotions and to empathise with others.

Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ famously said: “You can never understand someone unless you understand their point-of-view, climb in that person’s skin or stand and walk in that person’s shoes.”

The objective of ‘Who’s Shoe is it anyway?’ is to enable participants to see how similar they and their customers are. We all have fears, pain, desires etc. Regardless of our experiences, and/or how we live our lives, how we brush over issues or face up to them, at a core level our emotions are all the same.

I endlessly find it amazing, how we are not taught about our emotions in school and are not provided with communication skills training. If we understood our emotions from a young age, we could learn how to have better emotional management. We would also identify and empathise with other people more readily.

Of course the business case here is that managers and leaders who are emotionally intelligent are consistently recognized as being more effective and successful in their roles.

Ineffective managers are expensive, costing organizations millions of dollars each year in direct and indirect costs.  Ineffective managers make up half of today’s organizational management pool, according to a series of studies (e.g.Gentry & Chappelow, 2010).

If managers and leaders can genuinely take another persons perspective into account, they are much more likely to get the results they require. Perspective taking can be applied to solving problems, managing conflicting, or driving innovation. And we could all do at being better at those things!

With the hustle and bustle of daily life, you might be thinking we have no time to consider our own or others emotions. I argue though, that if we understood emotions better, every reaction we have to situations and people could be more positive for ourselves, our long-term health, and the health of others! It generally just takes recognizing how we are feeling and making a decision to respond differently to how the child in us would like to respond. Our behaviours, patterns, beliefs about others and ourselves are all laid down when we are children. How many of us have actually grown up and out of our childhood ways of being and reacting?

Yes maybe that man who cursed and shouted from the car beside me that day could be called a rude, ignorant, angry person (I made a mistake in the lane but I didn’t deserve the level of abuse I got for it!), but no doubt his personality and how it was expressing itself was probably caused by his upbringing or the stress he is currently under in his life. And yes, it is difficult to be patient with people when they are treating you badly, but what we can do is take responsibility in how we react…can you?

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