How empathy and accuracy build trust

How can truth inspire love? That’s one of Uncommon Pursuit’s core values.

Dr. James Eglinton shares this thought from the life of Herman Bavinck :

It is easy to dismiss criticism from someone who misrepresents or misunderstands your view, but it is far more difficult when that person has made a serious effort to present your view accurately and charitably. In fact, for those who wish to grow as thinkers, that kind of critique is attractive, not repellent. It wins trust.

(Source: Everybody Loves Bavinck | Christianity Today).

Discussion Questions:

What tempts you to misrepresent someone else’s view?

How can we, as members of the Uncommon Pursuit community, help each other present other people’s views in an attractive and charitable manner?

What helps you describe someone else’s perspective well?

1 Like

If you bear with me a moment, I’d like to explore the thought that this is a skill that has two sides or perspectives it can be applied from. In one sense the skill is applied as one understanding the view of another, as an outsider. In the other sense the skill is also applied as the one being understood by the other, as the insider. The empathy of the one conveying the viewpoint can go a long way in cultivating empathy in the one receiving the viewpoint and vice versa. The empathy of the conveyor must not temper or corrupt the accuracy or fervor of the viewpoint being conveyed. For the substance and the zeal are both important in the process of understanding.

For me I’d say fear and a lack of trust are the big triggers that make me want to misrepresent someone’s viewpoint. If I feel that their viewpoint is an attack I’m less likely to show empathy towards what they have to convey. I may not trust their intentions and the interchange can easily turn adversarial. Not always the best environment to cultivate understanding.

I think the antidote to the fear and mistrust is confidence I the Lord and the Holy Spirit. I believe this is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 10:19. It’s easy to “game it out” in our heads, practicing our responses to others, but that “worrying” only helps to breed adversity towards the other’s viewpoint. So even if the exchange of viewpoints is in person or via some form of media, resting in the Lord and leaning not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) can go a long way towards the charitable and attractive conveyance of another’s point of view.

In business analysis there is an elicitation technique called “the 5 why’s.” As I’ve practiced this in my career over past few years I’ve learned that understanding the intents and motivations behind a businesses process helps me in translating their need to the technical developers of a given solution. Seeking to understand the why’s of someone’s perspective makes it easier to accurately convey the technical details of their viewpoint with greater empathy.