The old Cherokee proverb to "Walk a mile in another persons shoes," is designed to have us experience the life of someone else and hopefully gain insight to become empathetic and more understanding of others. Too often the mere thought of wearing someone else's sweaty shoe stops us from thinking beyond the message that comes through the experience of seeing life through the eyes of another person.
The bulk of my career was dedicated to the Escrow and Title Industry where time constraints surrounding the processing of documents can become arduous and daunting; it's easy to lose sight of a true human connection. No matter what industry I reference, all too frequently a purchase order, invoice number, file or case number becomes the reference point and not the person who is attached to this number. Humans are not the number 5; they are not 27705 or any other combination comprised of 1,2,3,...etc...etc. I know I am not a number and I greatly appreciate and value people who don't treat me as if I am.
I take pride in the fact that when I was in Escrow I connected with my clients and co-workers by their name and not as "the seller or buyer of 123 Any Street, Your Town, USA or The Manager of the Customer Service or Sales Department." Currently, my unique physical condition makes me appreciate the nurse who doesn't reference me by the title of the illness for which I'm being treated. I want to be referred to as Annamarie and not "the woman who managed to beat pancreatic cancer or the woman with hardly any body parts."......I'm Annamarie.
You don't have to walk in the shoes of someone else to think about where they have walked. The correct word to use here is "empathy" but the word empathy is being over-used and it's losing it's impact. The ability to empathize is relative to a person's capacity to identify, feel and understand their own feelings. When someone can identify their own feelings, empathy is their ability to project one's feelings onto others.
Today I'm asking you to only think about how you would feel if you were them; forget about walking in their shoes. In the Escrow Industry for example; when you ask a buyer for additional funds, think about how they scrimped and saved to obtain the funds they have already given you. I'm not suggesting you wave any possible fees that need to be collected; just pause and consider their circumstance. What about the seller in a transaction who has to bring in funds to close the escrow because they are so underwater they can only see their life dream go down the drain. When you're in line at the grocery store and see someone digging in the bottom of their purse to find change to pay for their food, recall yourself trying to balance your budget at the end of the month. To someone searching for the one single dollar can be as difficult to them as it is for you to search for an additional thousand dollars. Think about the Grocery Clerk on the other side of the counter who has been standing on their feet pushing buttons and scanning food for hours at a time. Perhaps this is a perfect opportunity to put down your cell phone and look at this clerk and ask, "How is your day going so far?" So few people look them in the eye; they often feel as if they are being viewed as nothing more than a tool to scan their food. Take a moment to think about how you would enjoy a human connection; an acknowledgement; a simple smile.
You don't really have to walk a mile in their shoes to pause; you don't even have to stop if you don't want to....just pause; consider how you would like to be treated. Then give some consideration to every one you meet and open yourself up to feel, connect and relate.
If you're willing to go one step farther.......Today, when you put shoes on your feet, be grateful that you even own a pair of shoes; be grateful you have feet.