In our day to day we talk about empathy, but what does it mean to be empathetic? Empathy can be defined as the ability to identify, understand and share the feelings or perspectives of other people. Not to be confused with compassion, we must bear in mind that empathy is intrinsically nonjudgmental.
"How to practice empathy in my life?" To be truly empathetic, we must cultivate the ability to renounce. The effects of empathy not only remain in the direct benefits it has on nearby people, but go far beyond the immediate circle. In this Transkerja.com article we show you some ways to practice empathy.
Why develop an empathic attitude?Empathy improves relationships, increases work performance and even has long-term positive effects. Recent research has shown that we are social beings that we tend to take care of the other naturally, but there are also ways to train or teach them. In fact, we could say that not being empathetic goes against human nature.
Some benefits of empathy in our lives that make it very important to practice are:
- It allows us to treat people in the same way that we would like them to treat us.
- You will better understand the needs of the people around you
- You will better understand the perception that others form of you according to your words or behaviors
- You will achieve a greater understanding of nonverbal communication
- In your work you will better understand the needs of customers
- You will have fewer problems when dealing with interpersonal conflicts whether at work or at home
- You will have the capacity to predict more accurately the actions and reactions of the people who interact with you
- You will know how to motivate people who are in your immediate environment
- You will have greater ability to convince others of your points of view
- In every experience that you live, you will not only have your perception but also that of the people around you
- You will have more facility to deal with negativity of others if you can understand their motivations and fear. When something goes wrong with someone, we must remind ourselves that we should calm down and accept the situation as it is.
- Empathy can make you a better leader, better follower and best friend, in general: better person.
Dynamics to practice empathy in adultsIf you still ask yourself “how to practice empathy in my life ", we present situations and dynamics of empathy and assertiveness that can be very useful for you:
Be curiousAs children, we are naturally inquisitive as we explore the world through our innocent eyes and without bias. Sadly, as we grow the monotony of the routine can end with that freshness. In empathy resides a sense of curiosity, both for the people and for the situations that surround us. Regardless of whether it's the woman who sits next to you on the bus every day or the postman who leaves your cards every morning, make the effort to talk to people you would not normally meet.
Listen outA person who knows how to listen is someone who provides full attention. Take the time to really listen to what others are telling you and try to feel the emotion behind the words. Very often, when we are given the necessary space to talk about something, we usually find the solution through ourselves and an answer is not even necessary.
Speak from your heartSadly, being a person who knows how to listen is not enough, empathy is a two-way street. To create a deep and true partnership we need to open ourselves more to the other person and be prepared to share our vulnerabilities.
Face your prejudicesAlthough we do not want to recognize it, most of us feel guilty when we label other people. Being truly empathic implies looking for common aspects between us and not differences. Volunteering is a good way to end those prejudices and connect with those people that otherwise we would not know in our day to day.
Maintain physical contactOnce your friend has opened up to you, you can let yourself go by the instinct to give him a hug. Research has shown that physical contact increases oxytocin levels by improving mood, decreasing blood pressure and stress, etc.
Do the dynamics for empathy in adults work?A meta-analysis of 18 studies on the effects of empathy training showed that training empathy increased empathy levels.
Studies evaluate empathy in different ways, but many use tests in which a series of situations are posed and ask themselves what would you do in that situation if you were that person? While others employ daily self-assessments. In all the measures employed there seems to be some positive effect of the training. Although we must bear in mind that these studies have limitations.
Those people who showed significant improvements were mainly health professionals or university students. And the studies usually followed the participants for a few weeks, not longer.
So we cannot be sure that we can increase empathy through formal training, nor can we ensure that it is possible to help someone have more empathy over time. However, it never hurts to develop this aspect of our emotional intelligence.