When I was in Minneapolis, I checked ahead on my app to see how long it would take to get to a restaurant where I was meeting a friend for dinner. The answer: 20 minutes. Only when I went to leave for this engagement it was closer to the 5pm rush hour and the same app now said 38 minutes to travel the same distance. Yikes!

In my small town, it takes the same amount of time to go a mile no matter what time of day you are traveling. I never think about the time I am leaving or factor in traffic. “How long it takes” is a finite response, not variable. But in a big city, if I ask you “how long”, both 20 minutes and 40 minutes would be correct.

I think this simple example can serve as a model to help you express empathy. Instead of jumping in with an answer or thinking that you know what is correct, pause for a moment and consider the other person’s perspective. Are they leaving at Noon or 5pm? From a big city or a small town?

Everyone’s journey – whether literally or metaphorically – is influenced by their personal context.

 

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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