As a mindful leader, how can you cultivate, develop, and practice a sense of understanding toward your fellow human being, whether that be a co-worker, family member, or complete stranger? Cultivating understanding may seem a little daunting at first, but by the time you finish reading this article, you will have healthy mindfulness habits as a solid foundation to build your practice of understanding from. Read on to learn more.
First, why is understanding so important if you’re a mindful leader? There are many reasons, but one of the most important is that understanding allows you to see the people around you as the multifaceted individuals that they are. Where normally we might see only one aspect or characteristic of an individual, understanding allows us to more easily practice empathy and compassion toward those around us.
Now, despite some of these sounding a little harsh, blunt, brutal, or whatever other label you would like to use, I highly recommend reading these tips for understanding other people in relation to yourself with an open mind and reserved judgment, of yourself as well as everyone else.
7 Tricks to Understanding People (Including Yourself) Better
1. Remember that people are, for the most part, selfish, self-involved, and self-centered. We are each, after all, the center of our own universe because our thoughts and emotions are typically the only ones we know well and can directly witness. Because we cannot access others’ thoughts and emotions, they are not nearly as “loud” within our perception as we are to ourselves. Most of the time, people aren’t trying to be mean, cruel, or inconsiderate. They are just more worried about themselves than you.
2. People are forgetful by nature, so try not to take it as an affront to you personally. Typically speaking, it probably has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
3. Everyone gets lonely sometimes. Loneliness is very common, but it can come with all kinds of other weird emotions and fears that may or may not adversely affect an individual’s emotional state. When a person feels like they are being judged, don’t fit in, or are excluded, it can make life that much more difficult for them and everyone around as well.
4. The best way to understand most people’s behaviors is to realize that much of it will come from selfish altruism or the opportunity for a win-win situation in which one or both parties help each other in some way or another.
5. Nobody can know what you’re feeling without you talking about it. Unless you work in an office full of highly sensitive empaths, chances are that if you’re having a bad day or feeling sad, nobody is going to know unless you communicate about it.
6. Humans are emotional beings. We feel deeply, some more so than others, but everyone has emotions and everyone’s emotions are valid to the point of being recognized and hopefully released, especially if they are uncomfortable or “negative” emotions. Typically, emotions are stronger than what anyone lets on to the outside world, so most of the time people will assume you’re fine if you haven’t been crying or just had an outburst of some kind. And that’s okay… just know that it has nothing to do with you.
7. Don’t take anything personally. No matter what the circumstances might be, chances are that the way someone interacts with you has way more to do with their own thoughts and emotions than it does with you.
Are there exceptions to these generalizations? Of course! If you’re an empath or a highly sensitive person, for example, many of these might make you feel terrible because you will automatically jump to feeling guilt for assuming and/or judging, jumping to conclusions.
Stop. Pause. Take a few deep breaths. Remember the definition of an empath and use your best discernment to find the facts. Talk with people instead of only relying on your intuition. The more misunderstandings and miscommunications you solve, the more honed your skills will become.
If you’re one of the few and far between people who has dedicated their life to service, sacrifice, and helping their fellow man, then you are also an exception to the rule. True, pure altruism is extremely rare, so typically, people will fall into some form of selfish altruism by looking for mutual benefits.
For more information on the Mindfulness Movement and the International Mindfulness Federation, please visit: