- Empathy enhances your life in countless ways.
- Here are just 8 ways empathy benefits you
- What if you are not naturally empathetic?
- Here are 7 quick tips to increase your powers of empathy
Merriam-Webster defines empathy as:
“The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”
To simplify, empathy is one’s ability to understand and share another person’s feelings. Being able to put yourself in their shoes, to relate to what they are saying or feeling. And understand. It is not necessary that you should have experienced a similar situation.
Research shows that empathy is undeniably a very important attribute needed in health professionals, managers, and educationists.
Empathy enhances your life in countless ways.
There is a common misconception that practicing empathy is something we do for others, but it is not just others that benefit from our empathy. Our empathy benefits us just as much as it does other people! Even as we help them feel better and let them know that they are not alone, your relationship with the person becomes stronger.
Here are just 8 ways empathy benefits you
1. It enhances your relationships
To be empathetic means understanding others’ thoughts and emotions. As a result, there are fewer misunderstandings and the likelihood of offending someone is much less likely. This leads to stronger and healthier relationships.
2. Empathy improves your ability to form new relationships
Besides your existing relationships, your empathy also increases your ability to form new relationships. People who are empathetic are more approachable and likable. They bond easily with others.
3. You are a better negotiator
An empathetic person has the ability to be more reasonable and negotiate better with family, and associates at work.
4. Empathy can help your career
When you are highly empathetic, you are able to navigate your way through the workplace much easier. This is because you understand what people at work need or want and being aware of this makes you more powerful.
5. Your self-esteem improves
Getting along better with others, and being liked by others naturally makes you more successful even as it boosts your self-esteem.
6. It makes you more valuable to others
It goes without saying that people like people who are empathetic. Your ability to influence others is greatly affected by your ability to be empathetic. When you have a high degree of influence over others, you’re in a position to do more for your friends, family, employer, customers, and clients.
7. You understand people more
Empathy gives a peek into how the minds of others work. You begin to see the similarity between seemingly dissimilar people. You can’t fully understand people and their motivations without being highly empathetic.
8. Life is easier
When you put all of these advantages together, your life becomes a lot easier. Your relationships are better. Your career is enhanced. You feel better about yourself and are better able to influence others. And so, having empathy benefits you as much as it does the people around you.
What if you are not naturally empathetic?
Can you learn to be empathetic? Yes! You can develop this skill with some effort and observation.
Here are 7 quick tips to increase your powers of empathy
1. Practice being an excellent listener
While talking or communicating with someone, give them your full attention. Be an active listener. Show an interest in what they are saying.
2. Imagine yourself in the other person’s situation
This is an especially helpful tip to be empathetic. Generally, people are judgmental about situations. Instead, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and imagine how you would feel. What emotions would you experience? What would you be thinking? They are probably thinking and feeling the same way.
3. Acknowledge their feelings
When someone shares a problem, people have a tendency to brush it aside as if it is no big deal. Instead, let the person know you recognize how they are feeling. For example, if they say they feel bothered, ask them why, helping them talk about it. Ask them questions, encouraging them to talk about it.
4. Show kindness
People with problems usually look for emotional support. Ask them how they are feeling and how you can help them. If the person happens to be close to you, you could even offer to meet up, give them a hug.
5. Consider how you would want someone to react if the situation were reversed.
Take another step and think about what you’d like someone to do or say if you were in the other person’s situation.
6. Be non-judgmental
When you judge, it just puts a full stop to the conversation besides making the other person feel worse. Don’t make assumptions. Instead, listen to what the other person has to say, acknowledge their feelings and give them the benefit of the doubt.
7. Be encouraging
Let the person know that you support them. Often, people don’t look for answers or instant solutions to their problems. All they want is empathy, a listening ear to feel better.
To summarize, empathy is a skill that benefits you as much as it does the people on the receiving end of your empathy. It is a skill that anyone can learn. Build on your capacity to be empathetic and notice the amazing changes in your life.