Can You Possibly Know How Someone Feels?
No. Every human being is unique. Not just in their genetic make-up, but in their accumulated life experiences, knowledge, current state of life, and a whole lot of other things…all of which impact how someone might be feeling in any given moment and relative to any given topic, event, or situation.
Yet, it is commonplace to hear the words…
“I know how you feel.”
There are sales training curriculums that teach this statement as a way to make someone understand that YOU understand them and can relate to them, such that you can begin to move them towards your way of thinking and away from the objection they are voicing. This is also something that people naturally say when they are trying to help someone who is struggling with something and they are trying to be empathetic.
You have a much higher chance of offending someone and breaking rapport by using these words, than anything else.
Right now, there is a lot of turmoil and fear in the world. Some people are more impacted by this than others. I would be willing to bet there is a lot of “I know how you feels” being thrown around.
You Might be Able to Imagine…
You might be able to appreciate; you may be able to relate to how they COULD be feeling…but you cannot ever know exactly how someone is feeling. When you say these words, you will likely elicit a defensive reaction like “how do you know how I feel?”
Important to know, that this may not be said…just felt. These words, even if said with the best heart-felt intention and genuine desire to comfort someone, are more likely to do the opposite. If I am in any type of transaction and I ask a question and get a “I know how you feel response,” I immediately know there is little chance I am going to do business with this person in this moment. If I’m in a personal conversation (just being real here…as an introvert it’s rare for me to share much, if anything, with anyone, about my feelings) and someone says that to me, I check out a little right away.
What SHOULD You Say?
There are multiple ways you can handle this depending on the situation. Just a few ideas for you here…
You can ask “How does that make you feel?” (you rarely go wrong by asking a question)
You can say “It appears to me that you are (describe feeling) about this, is that right?” (by saying “appears” you are acknowledging that you aren’t certain.)
You can say “I can appreciate that this might be affecting you deeply”…or “I can only imagine how you must be feeling.” (gives them the sense you know it’s tough)
What’s important is to acknowledge that the other person is dealing with feelings, and that you would like to understand what they are so that you can be helpful or supportive. This demonstrates that you care. Caring about someone helps them to feel valued, and when they feel you value them, then they begin to trust you and your intentions. This opens the door for them to share feelings with you more openly, and creates deeper bonds.
Incorporate your own words, and take this case by case and you will get to a place over time where you become very effective at communicating in the midst of challenges. For now, simply try to be conscious of the impulse to say “I know how you feel” so that you can swallow it and say something different!
This video is a recent addition to my Youtube channel that will help you in managing weaknesses.
I hope you found this helpful. Please share with others if you believe they would benefit.
Here is a recent video on How to Design an Awesome Life
Many Blessings, Todd
P.S. “3 Circles Living” will not only help you condition yourself properly, but it will also give you an exact formula for achieving your richest life possible. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen!