“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” – Stephen Covey
What Is Empathy?
The dictionary definition of empathy is: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
A more personal definition is that empathy lets us connect with each other and feel connected, accepted, and understood while on the other hand, interacting with people who show a lack of empathy leaves us feeling disconnected and alone.
What Is the True Value of Empathy?
The true value of empathy is that it provides us with a sense of emotional validation.
While it does not help in every situation, showing empathy can relieve tension and anger in a person who is venting or complaining.
And if you are the one venting or complaining, having someone acknowledge your anger – having someone ‘hear’ you and understand you, can help reduce the anger and frustration you are experiencing.
Do I Lack Empathy?
Most people know deep down if they are empathetic or not, but there are tests you can take to assess your level of empathy toward others.
How Can I Be More Empathetic?
To be more empathetic, listen more than you speak. It’s not always easy, because everyone needs to be heard – everyone needs to ‘soft’ end of empathy sometimes.
- When someone is telling you how they feel or what they think, or what they believe – you don’t have to solve their problems, educate them, or do anything except let them express themselves.
- Recognize that it’s okay to say, “I understand.” even if you don’t totally understand – or to simply nod as a way to show you hear the person and are not judging them.
- Think of the most frustrating conversation you ever had with your mother or father or any authority figure who was telling you how to live your life – the reason it was frustrating is most likely due to the fact that – that person was showing a lack of empathy in their dealings wth you.
- Take an extra second to wish someone you would usually not chat with a good day, or to ask how their day is going.
- Give a smile to someone who looks crestfallen, if they don’t smile back, don’t sweat it, maybe the memory of your smile will come to them later when they need it most.
I would love to hear what you think…
Do you have any favorite tips for increasing empathy?
Or, do you have any stories about how experiencing a lack of empathy made you feel?