Around the Holidays, there's a lot of advice-giving that happens, especially from family members and friends you haven't seen for a while. Much of the advice is anecdotal but it comes from that good intention of helping another person out.
Some advice can be step-by-step and clear, but most advice lacks empathy. It doesn't necessarily consider you, it considers only the person giving it. There are a lot of assumptions in it that their reality is similar to yours, when that could be completely off the mark.
The advice I've found most useful has been what helped me figure it out for myself. It was self-referential, in that I already had the answer and just needed a few words and phrases from someone else to uncover it. There was a connectedness to it in that the person took the time to consider it from my vantage point.
You + Me = We
The idea of "co-emergence" is that you empathically place yourself in another's perspective while they do the same so that a solution is created, or rather co-created.
From a Western perspective, you "walk a mile in their shoes" before advising them. From an Eastern perspective, one of my favorite sayings is, "The teacher and the taught create the teaching."
When I look back on successful projects, decisions, and events, I can see the truth in both sayings. And when things didn't work out, I recall the situation being one-sided, not considering everyone involved.
We often act from the idea that we are lone agents in the world. The very definition of "co-emergence" proves this impossible. Of course there's you and me, and our self-interest. But there is also the "we", and when two people act from that perspective, things seem to work out, and much more smoothly.
A Mutual Handshake
It's like going to a networking event and putting your hand out there for a handshake. When the other person does the same at the same time, the synchrony is clear and conversation flows easily.
If you held back your hand until someone else put their hand out first or if you put your hand out first and the other person was slow to respond, things would be a little off. You may not pay it much mind, but it might feel awkward at the outset.
In the same manner, if you're receiving advice without empathy, how can you be empathetic to turn the tide from personal annoyance to mutual benefit? And if you're the one giving advice, how can you imbue empathy into the conversation?
Think of a time when you were getting or giving advice. Was the advice asked for or warranted? What role did empathy play in how the advice was received or given?
Share your thoughts with me over email.