Have you ever talked to someone who lacks empathy and who just cannot seem to understand what you’re saying because they are so set on telling you something?
If you answered yes – How did it make you feel? Frustrated? Angry? Like you really didn’t want to talk to that person ever again?
Empathy plays an important role in effective communication – and practicing this type of responsive compassion can help make the world a better place – one person at a time.
What is empathy? Empathy is, basically, the ability to understand and to share the feelings of another person, or another living creature.
There are many different communication styles, some effective and some not so effective, but for increasing empathy, it’s good to put responsive communication into practice.
Responsive communication starts with hearing and processing verbal cues, includes taking the time to process and respond to those verbal cues as well as watching for and processing nonverbal cues.
Verbal and Nonverbal Communication
Some people will say exactly what they think – and if you’re dealing with one of those delightfully above-board people, communicating with empathy should be relatively easy – you just have to hear them and think how you would feel in their situation.
- Many people, however, most people actually, have emotional filters in place that make effective communication and true empathy a bit more tricky.
- When dealing with people who are guarded, you have to hear the words they are speaking and their tone of voice while also watching hand gestures, posture, eye contact, and head movements such as nodding or shaking the head no.
- The nonverbal forms of communication are often more important in understanding and being empathetic to the other person’s feelings than the words they are saying.
- For example, if someone is saying “Yes” but their head is shaking in a silent “No” then their subconscious is speaking to you, and it’s wise to pay attention if you want to understand and communicate with them effectively.
Compassion and Kindness
“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and beauty.” -Albert Einstein
Empathy can make the world a better place by allowing us to understand and even experience the feelings of others on a personal level so we can interact with other people and other living creatures with compassion and the sense of sharing this journey through existence.