More the problems you face in life, more the wisdom. More the challenges you manage, more the realisation of life. More the knowledge you gain, more the ignorance.
I have a list of habits which I wish I had started 10 years ago. Every habit is important, but in my mind, One Habit stands tall among others. I’m sure that this one habit would help not only me but also others near me to live a happier life. This habit is “Practising Empathy”
Empathy — The ability to understand and share the feelings of another or in other words — Be in the shoes of others.
Being a designer, I was aware of Empathy — But I realised a year back that I was not practising the “Real Empathy”. I’m not a complete designer if I do not practise ‘Empathy’ in my everyday life. It is not like a uniform to wear when we go for work(To do user research).
Unless I practise Empathy every day — I may miss out essential emotions, behaviours and attitudes of my product users. If I do not care for them, I cannot expect them to care for my products.
I’ve been trying to be Empathetic in everyday life for the last few months.
When there is a difference of opinion with my wife on a topic — I try to be in her shoes, think about her childhood scenarios, social angle, her exposure. This helps me to understand the reasons behind her viewpoint. When there is a conflict with my mother, I realise that how her opinion is shaped by various past scenarios. It helps me to try to adapt my reply or behaviour and steer their behaviour towards what is right or necessary.
When my colleague shows an anger — I do try to understand the reasons behind — Maybe, he had some problems in the home. I suspend judgement, create opportunities to understand them in detail. In-depth understanding of a person builds a strong mutually beneficial relationship.
When somebody behind my car honks me while I was standing for a Red Signal in a traffic, I suspend judgement and try to give him benefit of doubt — Maybe he is in some hurry or he may not have seen the signal — No more arguments, no more tension/angry, better health for everyone.
Earlier, When I see a rash rider, I would feel like going behind and knock him gently, so that I could teach him a lesson. Nowadays, I think from the rider’s parents perspective — They had spent more time, love and money on their son — They may not be aware of this guy’s behaviour — They may have huge hopes for this guy. I’d be punishing his parents than their son. You cannot blame parents for certain behaviours — sometimes, it is beyond their control.
Suspend Judgement, Have a Beginner’s mind, Observe, Understand the people — You will be Empathetic. It is not only good for us but good for people around us.