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A way of moving forward with a difficult relationship or communication is to spend five minutes trying to understand  the other person’s perspective and connect with what they are feeling.

This may help you gain new insights and perhaps enable you to develop new strategies for moving forward. For example you might realise that the other person may be as anxious as you are about the uncertainty ahead; you might find you both want the same thing and just have a different style; you might find a genuine impasse. Whatever comes up should deepen your understanding of the situation.

Here are some ways of putting yourself in other people’s shoes:

  1. Ask the other person how they feel and try to remember a time you felt the same way.
  2. Close your eyes and pretend to be the other person and ask yourself what you think and feel about the situation.
  3. Pretend to be the other person and write down your thoughts and feelings about the situation.
  4. Ask someone you trust to do a role play where you play the person you have a challenge with and your friend plays you.

The  focus on feelings is an alternative to thinking about what was said and done and can provide new insights.

This approach can also be used when presenting to a larger audience. What are the people in the audience feeling about being there? Try putting yourself in their shoes before you start designing the content and the approach. See what impact it has on how you prepare your talk or presentation.