When you find yourself in an uncomfortable, sticky situation with another person, you may feel challenged to figure out how you’ll resolve things. You may feel quite strongly about what’s happened or believe you’ve been disrespected in some way. You’re sure you’re “right.”
Most likely, however, you’ve heard the expression of “walking in another person’s shoes.” Have you ever put this idea to the test by applying it to a situation in your life? Doing so can dramatically open your eyes to a whole other way to view your circumstances, and may give you just the solution you’re looking for in your interpersonal interactions.
If nothing else, you’ll enrich your capacity to resolve struggles with others if you learn to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Follow these steps to see arguments from a different viewpoint and more easily resolve them:
1. Temporarily suspend your thoughts and feelings about your “side” of the argument. When you put aside your own reasoning and argument, you’re better able to see the view from the other perspective. Put down your position, at least for the moment.
2. Listen well. This step may be tougher than you think. When the other person is presenting their views, refrain from emphatically stating yours right back. For now, you’re just going to listen intently and with an open mind to what the other person sees from his viewpoint. You’ll most likely need to remind yourself, “I’m just listening right now.”
* How does the other person really feel? Do you understand why they feel that way?
3. Be neutral. Suspending your judgments and comments, try to gather information from the other person. How is he feeling? What is he thinking? What are his ideas on how to resolve the situation?
* Recognize that the other person might be adamant or stubborn about his point of view. Avoid allowing the person’s emotional state to influence you one way or the other.
4. Remind yourself that the other person cares. They are as passionate about their position as you are about yours.
5. Acknowledge that they have a right to their opinion. You’ll probably feel more relaxed in your encounter if you remind yourself that each human being has their own thoughts and opinions and they vary from person to person. And that’s okay.
6. Just for a moment, consider agreement. What would it feel like to agree with the person? Did they present a good argument? Take a few minutes to thoughtfully consider how accepting the other person’s “shoes” would affect you.
* Imagine what would happen for him and for you if you went along with his resolution.
7. Ask yourself: is this situation a big deal? Acknowledge to yourself that the conflict may not be as important as you first thought. In fact, now that you’ve calmed down and seen his view of things, you may notice that the dispute wasn’t worth the energy either of you were investing in being “right.”
8. Evaluate a compromise. Can you meet halfway to settle the dispute? If you give a little and he gives a little, you might be able to negotiate out of the conflict. Do you think you’re willing to meet halfway? If so, let him know. Ask if he’s open to doing the same.
* Find win-win solutions where you both get something you want.
9. Respect his position and agree to disagree. There will be times when you can’t totally concur with someone regarding a situation. At least if you can respectfully agree to disagree, you’ve reached a resolution of sorts.
Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes is an enlightening experience. If you set your own feelings aside and listen without judgment, you’ll see the other person is as passionate as you are about the issue at hand.
As you begin to see the other person’s view and recognize the situation isn’t earth-shattering, you can begin to think about meeting each other halfway. And in the end, you always have the option to politely disagree once you put yourself in the other person’s shoes.