A recent post by marketing wizard, Seth Godin, is entitled EMPATHY TAKES EFFORT.  Seth says that when we imagine what it must be to be like someone else, that we expose ourselves to risk.  I think his message is that by putting ourselves in someone else’s point of view, we may be shaken up and out of our own comfortable way of seeing the world.  We might feel uneasy if we have to take into account factors we ordinarily choose to view differently, or ignore altogether.

I have addressed this issue in the past and have referred to it as looking at the world through a different window than the one in our own “house”.  This can be true in a physical sense – truly – I am often made aware of how just sitting in a different spot, looking out different window, can completely alter a view of the same object.   It may also be true in the personal, human sense.  I am always amazed at how one topic can be viewed so differently by so many people.  Political views, religious views, views about child-rearing – and my personal haunt – views about the value of housekeeping can vary by exactly how many people are involved in the topic at the time.   Our friends, our neighbors – jeez, even our own families – look through the windows of their own self and see one issue quite differently than the next person.

I think that without an effort to bring empathy to your self and thus, to your work, you are setting up walls which impede many opportunities to learn and grow and connect.  These walls, created by lack of empathy, seem to also create anger toward and distrust of others who do not look out of your window.  By understanding the window through which someone is viewing their situation, and by adjusting our own lenses to bring in a closer version of their view, we can better work toward completing a project at hand.

I agree, Seth Godin – It may “be easier to walk on by, to compartmentalize and to isolate ourselves. Easier, but not worth it.”

This is Great Stuff!