How did I learn to listen, empathise and see things from the other person point of view?

Hi there,
Today sharing is going to be a bit personal. This is for those friends and colleagues who have asked me over the years on how I could be so open for feedback, to listen/connect with other people and their view points at such a ‘young’ age?
Well there are no mysteries or secrets, I wasn’t born with it for sure, I have learnt it over the years and am constantly reminding myself of it.
My late mother taught me that “every man I meet is my superior in some way, in that, I learn of him” (Emerson) since I was young. She didn’t use the exact words but she kept repeating the lesson throughout my adolescence life. She would use many examples in our daily life to demonstrate for me that even though society in general would consider someone as inferior, she would find one thing about them that we should admire. Despite her best efforts, I didn’t learn it though.
I didn’t learn it until I read the book “How to win friends and influence people” by Andrew Carnegie. It is easily the most influential book that I have read in my life so far. It changed me and the way I looked at life. It helped me to connect the dots and learnt to be a better human being. I realised the importance of listening and the fact that my success in life would not depend on how much I know about certain technical topics, but my ability to deal with, work with and service other human beings.
Still, learning is the process and until today, more than 12 years after reading the book for the first time, I still find myself trying to live the principles in the book every day. I still review how I am doing against these principles every Sunday.
It is not easy, when you are being criticised or when others see/say something different from what you believe in. Emotion is running high and I am too succumbed to the power of emotion. Like the time that I fired an entire group of team members at one go (though looking back, it was my own mistake), or ridiculed the airline customer service etc…
“Sleep on it” rule
Over the years, I learnt a trick called the “sleep on it” or “overnight” rule. Basically I would resist, not to send the email out or make a phone call to square things off or blow up steam in an emotionally charged situation. I would try to leave it as is and go to bed.
Then I evaluate the situation again the next day, when I am calmer. 99 out of 100, I would not proceed with the same response the night before.
Facing death provides clarity on what’s truly important
I would not wish this on anyone, of course. Experiencing death up close and personal left a lasting impact on how I saw life. I truly appreciate how certain things that seem important in the past, turn out to be nothing in front of death. It helps to surface things that are truly important to my lives. This helps me tremendously in my dealing with people, to learn to let go, of constantly making a conscious choice of what I am doing, who I am doing it with and people that I don’t want to spend time with.
That’s all from me for today,
All the best,

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