To Kill A Mockingbird. An American classic, dog-eared and underlined by school-children the world over. The characters transcend the years. Scout, the tom-boy, always in trouble. Jem, the big brother, growing up fast and realising the ways of the Deep South. And Atticus Finch, the stately but approachable small town lawyer – the wise and trusted advisor, revered by everyone.
Empathy is all you need
Way before Daniel Goleman coined the term “Emotional Intelligence”, the characters of To Kill A Mockingbird taught us everything we need to know to excel in this area.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…Until you climb inside his skin and walk around in it.”
Empathy, one of the cornerstones of Emotional Intelligence. This is what Atticus taught Jem and Scout.
In Neuro-linguistic programming there’s an exercise called Perceptual Positions, where you literally sit in different seats representing different people (or parts of yourself) to gain new perspectives and understanding on a situation.
You can’t ever fully understand someone’s exact situation unless you too have lived or are living it. But you can improve your working and personal relationships by stopping for a minute, and imagining yourself in others’ skin. Walk as far as you can in that skin, and experience as much of what they may be feeling as you possibly can.
Why do they act the way they do? What’s going on that they aren’t telling you, or anyone? What’s getting in the way of them performing or behaving as well as they normally do?
Emotional Intelligence is not a skill to be learnt. For most of us, it’s a choice to be made. Every day you can choose empathy over judgment; understanding over assumption; and asking over telling. Your choices will have a direct bearing on the strength of your relationships, and your success.
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