Instead of seeing this ["other"] person in their usual role-parent, sibling, or boss-see him or her in your mind's eye as just "another you." Consider that this person is just like you, with the same desires for happiness and with the same fears of suffering.

Once you have established this feeling, then imagine changing places with the person. Now you are in his life, standing in his shoes. Imagine you have this person's history-with his possible past experiences of rejection, grief, trauma, or fear. Consider that you have whatever constitutes his or her present suffering as well: feelings of being misunderstood and unfairly judged, deep experiences of pain or fear, or hidden insecurities and frustrated cravings which give rise to constant states of unhappiness. Imagine and consider the suffering this person may yet face-the physical deterioration and pain of aging or illness, the grief of future losses, the loneliness of dying or feeling abandoned.

From this perspective of seeing the world through the other person's eyes, now imagine seeing "you" enter the room to have a talk. Ask yourself: What would I most want from this person coming to see me? What would I most need from him or her?

Christine Longaker in The Wisdom of Listening by Mark Brady