Empathy and Interpersonal Competence

Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  Interpersonally competent: people have a deep understanding of themselves and what drive them, build strong relationships with others, and resolve conflict positively.

Dan Robey is the author of The Power of Positive Habits.  More important, he is my friend.  I subscribe to his ezine.  A couple of days ago, an article by Dan showed up in my inbox.  The article really struck a chord with me, so I sent Dan an e mail asking if I could excerpt it for my blog. 

In typical Dan fashion, he responded: “Bud, You always have permission from me to use any of my articles in any way you want. I appreciate your help in spreading the word. Thanks, Dan”

I like Dan’s article because it clearly articulates what it means to be an interpersonally competent person.  See for yourself…

You have something in common with every single person on this planet and it only takes one person to forever change your life.

Yes, you are unique.  Yes, there is no other human being on this planet with your exact DNA, and life experiences.  Yes, the thoughts in your mind are unlike any other person’s thoughts.

While this is all true, I want you to think about an amazing fact.  You have something in common with every person that is living and breathing right now on this big spinning ball we call "Earth."

It is your understanding of this commonality that all humans have that will forever change the way you think about people. It is your understanding of this commonality in the human race that will forever change the way you talk to, interact with, and respect people.

We are all living and breathing and going through the experience we call "LIFE."  We are all sharing this "LIFE" experience together because we are all "ALIVE RIGHT NOW!"

When someone treats you badly, remember that they are only human, they have faults just like you. Remember that anyone can have a bad day. Always remember that it is impossible for you to know exactly what is going on in a person’s mind at the exact moment you are interacting with them.

Maybe they lost a loved one recently. Maybe they just lost their job. Maybe they on the verge of a divorce. Always remember that they are struggling to make it through the up and down days of life… JUST LIKE YOU.

If you make it a habit to remember that others are just trying to be happy and prosperous in life, just trying to make it through another day, you will look at them in a different way. There will be a huge paradigm shift in your thought patterns. You will have compassion where none existed before. You will forgive those you thought you could never forgive. You will create friendships where a friendship was never possible before.  You will love where you have never loved before.

I want you to look back on your life right now. Can you identify one person who forever changed your life? Maybe it was a friend who introduced you to your spouse. Maybe it was a person who gave you advice and encouragement when you needed it most. Maybe it was a stranger who told you about a company that was hiring, you applied with that company, and got a job that changed your life.

Let me ask you another question.

What if that "ONE" person that was about to provide you with life changing information, was having a terrible day on that one fateful day that you met him or her?  Would you have detected the stress in their voice as they talked?  Would you have had empathy for their struggle?  Would you have given them a chance to get beyond their frustration?


Would their attitude on that one day have caused you to distance yourself from them?  Would you have pushed away from a person who may have been the "life changing" domino in your life?

Make it a habit to recognize that EVERYONE is going through this adventure called "LIFE."

Make it a habit to look into the eyes of complete strangers and "SEE" their struggles. "SEE" their passion. "SEE" their sorrow. "SEE" that they, like you, are imperfect, and judge them not.

Take the extra step to help them in their life struggles, someday they will do the same for you.  Someday, the person you least expect to change your life will become the "It’s a Wonderful Life" person who starts a change reaction of events that will "FOREVER" change your life.

That person could be waiting around the next corner.  That person might be someone you meet "TODAY."

If this message has changed your life in a positive way, share it. Send this email to everyone you love and care about. Be the "ONE" to push the first domino in a line of 1000’s of dominos!

Become the catalyst for change in another person’s life! Become the person that someone will identify years into the future as the person that started a series of events that made their life infinitely better.  Become a life changer! Make it a habit.

The common sense points here are clear.  Successful people are interpersonally competent.  Interpersonally competent people have a deep sense of empathy.  They see beyond what a person says or does and try to figure out why they say what they say or do what they do.  Interpersonally competent people give of themselves.  They go out of their way to help others get what they want in life.  As Dan Robey says, interpersonally competent people are willing to, “Be the one  to push the first domino in a line of 1000’s of dominos and become the catalyst for change in another person’s life.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this excerpt of an article by Dan Robey.  Please leave a comment letting us know what you think about Dan’s ideas.  You can find more of Dan’s articles here: http://www.thepowerofpositivehabits.com/ebook/e-book2-bonus-h.htm.  Thanks for reading.


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  1. Deanna McNeil says:

    I really enjoyed this article and couldn’t agree more with Dan on how this realization can make a huge difference in your daily walk through the day. The only way I was able to begin to think this way was to force myself to slow down, take more pauses in the day and focus on what is happening in the moment as opposed to being distracted by what I might do in the next few minutes or what happened a year ago.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Deanna.
    I agree. We all need to slow down and focus a little more on what’s happening with others if we want to become more empathic and interpersonally competent.
    All the best,

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