I must admit that I’m not finished yet, but I’ve gotten some great insights already. I’ve always been pretty empathetic and good at taking the other person’s perspective. However, I’d never named these as two distinct skills. In the book, research is cited that shows that they are distinct and both are important. Empathy is emotional so you consider how someone else will feel while perspective-taking is cognitive so you consider how someone else will think. Marketers often refer to these concepts as consider the WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) of your clients. Fortunately, you can enhance your skill just by prompting yourself to consider how the other person might feel and think.
Negotiators who were prompted to imagine what the other side was thinking did the best in finding deals that satisfied both sides. Perspective-takers basically made the whole pie bigger and got a very satisfying fair share of it. There are other take-aways that I’ve found but I’ll leave it at that for now. Next month’s book is “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz. Join me in reading it if you’re interested in consumer psychology and decision-making biases.