One of the best skills that I have learned that has not only helped me to build better relationships but also to reduce stress in my life is how to have more empathy. To me this means the ability to put myself in the shoes of the other person and look at the situation from their point of view.

It is an interesting exercise, and one that we all need to do a little more often, especially when we are feeling overwhelmed by events going on around us. When you make the conscious decision to think about a situation from the other person's perspective it takes you out of your own, stressed-out head and lets you see the situation in a way that may not have occurred to you before.

Being empathic generally makes us more compassionate, more understanding and more tolerant--not feelings we necessarily experience often in an increasingly chaotic world.

So, how do you become more empathic? Like most things in life worth learning, it takes some time and energy. If a difficult situation arises, instead of simply reacting with anger or frustration, stop and take a moment to start thinking empathically. Ask for time to think the matter over. Try to ignore your own feelings for a moment and look at the situation from the other person's perspective. How would you feel if you were in their shoes? Are their problems, complaints or actions reasonable? You might come full circle and end up back where you started, but at least you will have thought the situation through fully.

With empathy comes understanding, and I have learned this from some quite exceptional business people. It is the basic principle of great salesmanship; it is the force behind humanitarian movements the world over. Empathy is powerful stuff, but how does it help us to reduce stress and improve relationships? It shifts the center of our universe (being us) to another point, and this gives us a very fresh view of the situation at hand.

Just as it is hard to feel pain when you laugh, it is hard to be stressed out and angry when you look at any situation with empathy. Try it and I guarantee that you will be surprised by the impact this new way of thinking can have on your business and your life.