The Mindful Leadership Blog

Just In! Put Yourself in Their Shoes – NOT!

July 5th, 2018

What’s hot?

Recent research reveals that the age-old Dale Carnegie advice to put yourself in another’s shoes isn’t an accurate way to determine what others are thinking or feeling.*








So what?

These findings – if not explored – can send the wrong message to leaders and aspiring leaders.  The headlines seem to contradict that emotional intelligence – (EI) the ability to recognize and respond appropriately to the emotions of others – is a proven determinant of success.  In fact, research has proven that EI is as important (if not more important) than IQ.

What to do?

The study goes on to report that relying on intuition or “gut instinct” isn’t an accurate way to determine what others are thinking or feeling. Don’t run the risk of incorrectly “reading” someone else’s perspective.  Instead, test what you are seeing or sensing and ASK.  Questions like the ones that follow will help you understand, respond appropriately and build positive, productive relationships:

You seem uncomfortable, is there something that is bothering you?

You said you are “disgusted”. What happened that caused you to feel that way?

I notice you have been very quiet and was wondering if there is something you want to say about what just happened…

When I asked “how are you doing?” you said, “you don’t want to know!”  I want to know.  Do you want to talk about it?

Then, listen, without interrupting or trying to “fix” whatever is troubling the other until he/she has finished.  Resist the temptation to offer a course of action or solution unless one is requested or the other responds in the affirmative when you offer.

*Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), the University of Chicago and Northeastern University as reported in American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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