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How Spending Time In Other People’s Shoes Can Enhance Your Relationships

“Try honestly to see things from the other persons point of view.” – Dale Carnegie

It’s easy in the busyness of life for you and me to forget another person’s point of view. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a child, a co-worker, someone at church, a manager or supervisor, a friend, a police officer or a spouse–ignoring the other person’s point of view leads to a breakdown in that relationship. I’m sure you’ve experienced it because I believe we all have–probably more often than not–ignored the other person’s point of view while we pushed forward our own agenda. You and I both know it doesn’t build stronger relationships.

In his book “How To Turn People Into Gold”, Kenneth M. Goode says, “Stop a minute to contrast your keen interest in your own affairs with your mild concern about anything else. Realize then, that everybody else in the world feels exactly the same way! Then, along with Lincoln and Roosevelt, you will have grasped the only solid foundation for interpersonal relationships; namely, that success in dealing with people depends on the sympathetic grasp of the other persons point of view.”

We’re not born with the skill to see things from another person’s point of view–at least most of us aren’t. However, I believe it can be learned. I believe you can learn to practice seeing things from the other person’s perspective and just like anything else you practice, you’ll improve your skills at seeing the other person’s point of view.

Stop and Consider

If you’re a parent, consider for a moment what it’s like to be your child. If you’re a manager, stop for a moment and consider what it’s like to work for you? Maybe you’re a police officer, ask yourself what it’s like to be on the other side of your badge? If you’re in the military and hold a position of rank, what do you think it’s like to be under your command? If you’re a teacher, how do you think your students see you?

If you’re like me and you’re willing to honestly look at those questions and think about what it’s like for someone on the other side, you might feel a little uncomfortable. That’s okay. Discomfort is a perfect indication that something should change. I invite you to make a habit–a practice–to take some time every day to consider things from another person’s point of view. It will help you grow into a better person.

How Can You Change

If you’re a parent, how might you discipline your child differently after considering things from their point of view? Do you listen to understand their point of view? If you lead in any way at work, school, church, home, law enforcement, the military, government or anywhere, how would you do it differently after thinking about being under your own leadership?

Dean Don Donham of the Harvard Business School from a few years back said the following, “I would rather walk the sidewalk in front of a person’s office for two hours before an interview then step into that office without a perfectly clear idea of what I was going to say and what that person–from my knowledge of his or her interests and motives–was likely to answer.” How willing are you to put in the effort to see things from another person’s point of view? What difference could it make in your relationships?

Other Thoughts

Here are a couple more quotes to help you think about the idea of spending time in other people’s shoes (or we could call it seeing things from the other person’s point of view).

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” ― Henry Ford

“Never underestimate how extraordinarily difficult it is to understand a situation from another person’s point of view.” ― Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries

Be A Relationship Builder

It takes energy, effort, determination, and vulnerability to endeavor to honestly try to see things from another person’s perspective. Yet, I believe it’s worth the time, effort and energy that it takes because the payoff is huge. The payoff is in building bridges rather than tearing them down. The payoff is in building relationships rather than tearing them down. The payoff is more understanding. The payoff is more peace. I believe that in every interaction we have with another person, we’re are either building them up or tearing them down. I invite you to intentionally choose to be a bridge builder–a relationship builder so you can enjoy better relationships in your life.

I believe that learning to see things from another person’s point of view is a valuable leadership skill–a skill you can use as a parent or as a CEO! And if you run your own business it’s imperative to understand your potential clients point of view.


Now before you run away, stop, pick one person with whom you could improve your relationship by putting your time and energy into understanding their point of view more clearly. Your, wife, boss, an employee, a student, your faith leader, a parent or a child–whoever you select–give yourself and them at least 10 minutes right now and imagine walking through life in their shoes. Imagine being them and see life through their eyes and feeling their feelings. Go for a 10-minute “walk in their shoes”.

Photo Credit: Cool photo that helps illustrate the value of walking on another person’s shoes. Thanks, Bastian Ignacio Vega Cani

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Trevor Wilson

Trevor Wilson

I love helping business owners who are passionate about making a positive difference in their clients' lives. I'm a passionate learner and teacher. My purpose is to help people live a more fulfilled life. In my professional life, I love helping business owners get clear on their purpose and identity. Then I help them clearly communicate their story so they can attract their ideal clients. I do this because I believe that when you work with your ideal clients you'll live a more fulfilled life.

Successful people do what everyone else won't dare to do. Don't wish it were easier; make yourself better.