Imagine a situation where you’re feeling down and dejected. You tell your friend “I’m feeling sad.” Their response? “Don’t feel sad”. Is this an empathetic reaction? Definitely not. This isn’t the solution you were looking for and, in fact, it’s not a solution to anything.
So, what is empathy? It’s understanding someone’s thoughts, sharing their feelings, and giving them answers when they’re not able to find one.
When it comes to putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, it’s important you consider where they’re coming from before you make a judgment. If your friend or family member reaches out to you for support, your first instinct is to comfort them. But the way you do that shows how empathetic you are. Things like reading someone’s expressions and the way they articulate their problems can bring you closer to a solution.
What Is The Meaning Of Empathy?
The meaning of empathetic behavior is to be able to share someone’s pain without pretext or a motive. Today’s world is often harsh and difficult to handle alone. We hear unsettling news every day and this can impair our ability to move on. Life doesn’t seem as hard if you have someone to lean on or if you can lend a shoulder to someone in need.
Harappa Education’s Decoding Others course can help you learn how to understand other people’s sensibilities by identifying their verbal and nonverbal cues. Nurture empathetic behavior in all aspects of your life by learning how to read people and guiding them through their problems. Let’s look at ‘how to be empathetic’ in the next section.
How To Develop Empathy
Someone texts you in the middle of the night asking for help. What do you do? Do you continue sleeping? Or, do you wake up, give them a call, and be available? The latter showcases empathetic behavior. With the right perspective, you can connect with people and consider their point of view before dismissing them.
Here are some ways to develop empathy:
1. Learn To Listen
When someone tells you about a problem, make it a point to first hear them out before jumping straight to offering a solution. Sometimes, a person’s monologue can help them come up with a solution on their own. Being a good listener means that you’re available.
Empathetic behavior demands your presence. You can’t be thinking about something else—waiting for that person to finish their story. No matter what happens, you’re ready to hear their side of things and give them room to express their emotions.
2. Ask The Right Questions
By asking questions, you can help the person organize their thoughts and show that you’re concerned about them. Questions such as “are you okay?” or “do you want to talk about it?” come from a good place. Trust in your ability to cater to their needs and you’ll be able to make them feel better.
3. Mirror Their Emotions
Mirroring is a useful tool to relate to someone. If the person you’re talking to is being expressive about their concerns, then your response should be one that mirrors their style. Not only does it show that you’re interested but also helps them lean on you for support. Curt answers can throw someone off and they might become averse to the idea of seeking help. Patience is the best way to deal with anxious thoughts and mirroring can help you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
4. Hold Back On Judgment
The worst thing you can do to a person in need is to judge them for their actions or emotions. Instead of saying things like “get over it”, “it doesn’t sound that hard”, and “do yoga”, try something different. If your co-worker messes up a presentation at work and wants to talk to you about it, try to understand the problem before you write them off as incompetent.
Judgment can hamper relationships at work and at home. You have to be able to see things from different viewpoints before reaching a conclusion. Decoding Others offers frameworks such as The Deduction Model to avoid snap judgments based on first impressions.
5. Show Your Concern
An important aspect of empathetic behavior is showing concern and acknowledging someone’s feelings. If you’re concerned about something that’s bothering a friend or colleague, then expressing your concern can help them open up to you. Be sensitive when you listen to their problems and pay attention to what they’re saying.
Empathy comes from a place that teaches you how to become receptive. Learn to read someone’s emotions when they’re too shy to ask for help. Harappa’s resourceful frameworks such as the Universal Facial Tool teach you how to interpret facial expressions, body language, and gestures. You can become a reliable teammate, friend, and family member by equipping yourself with the right skills.