Conflict # 51 – Empathy

“Don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.”

Once upon a time in the 1960’s, George Wallace served as the Governor of Alabama. A racist through and through, he bitterly fought to prevent integration of black students in all-white public schools. As he continued to defy the nationwide civil rights movement, Wallace gained a rather ugly reputation. One day he was shot, and after that, unable to walk, his movement was confined to a wheelchair. His life was changed; and so was his mind. He dropped his apparent hatred of black people and his attempts to deprive them of their rights. He acquired the capacity to feel for them, and he publicly acknowledged that he had been wrong. He may even have learned empathy.

Empathy. To identify with and to experience another person’s feelings. Some people have it, while others don’t. Some say empathy can be learned; others disagree.

If you were in conflict with someone, would things go better if you were in tune with the other person’s feelings? It seems to make sense; after all, if you appreciate and sense another person’s feelings, you can understand where they’re coming from. If you lack that sensitivity, you’re less likely to appreciate the other person’s problem. In such a case, why would you care how the other person feels? And if you don’t care, how’s that going to work out?

Do you believe that empathy can be learned … that people can learn to care about others, instead of seeing them as non-persons … that a hard heart can be softened? Does it take a near-death experience to make that happen?

Maybe you’ve lost the will to care about someone or some thing. And that loss has created problems for you. Do you wonder whether that can change?

If so, I’d be more than happy to provide a free consultation. Just call 219-309-3928. I’ve been coaching conflict resolution since 2004, and would be honored to be of assistance.

Thanks for reading.