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Build Your Empathy Muscles: See the World Through Another’s Eyes

world through another’s eyes

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Welcome to week 4 of building your empathy muscles. In this final week you’ll learn how to see the world through another’s eyes.

This is the hardest part of empathy. It’s often known as putting yourself in another person’s shoes – and wearing shoes that don’t fit is uncomfortable. Seeing the world as your patient or client does (especially your difficult, resistant patient) isn’t easy. But if you can, you’ll understand their motivations, and showing empathy will be natural, rather than forced.

To start, think of someone you know and love, but who you often profoundly disagree with. Take a moment to wonder why they think so differently to you. It’s not because they’re stupid, but because they’re seeing the world through a particular lens. Work out what that lens is – or more likely, lenses – and you’ll begin to understand them better.

Then move to someone you know, but more distantly. Do the same here, and understand why on a particular point you always clash. What is it in their education or background that leads them to believe something you’d never agree with?

Finally, return to your difficult patient. Put yourself under their skin, and recognise the motivations behind why (for example) they won’t take their medication, or their strange behaviour in the consulting room. It will help you to find the patience you need, and to show the empathy necessary in order to pass the OET speaking exam.

Tips for seeing the world through another’s eyes

  • Work out why a loved one is behaving strangely. What lens are they seeing the world through?
  • Do the same with a colleague you clash with. Imagine what factors motivate their behaviour.
  • Finally, create an imaginary (or real) difficult patient. See things as they do, and you’ll have more sympathy for them – and be able to show more empathy too.

Discover how SLC can help you pass the OET exams if you’re a doctor or a nurse.

Stephanie Lam
About the author

Stephanie Lam is a writer, journalist, and English teacher. She specialises in writing fabulous words for the wellbeing and health industries.

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