Emapthy: A key skill

Understanding empathy

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Empathy is the ability to understand, connect, and feel another human being without any judgment. Yes, we are born with some level of empathy engraved in us but that doesn’t essentially mean that we cannot change that level. According to greatergood.berkeley.edu, “Empathy is the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.”

Empathy is an essential skill in any human being. Luckily, through constant practice, we can become more empathetic. According to Verywellmind, “Empathy is the ability to emotionally understand what other people feel, see things from their point of view, and imagine yourself in their place.”

Why should we become more empathetic?

  • To strengthen our relationships: To be understood, loved, heard, and feel connected, we need to empathize and strengthen our relationships. 
  • To find satisfaction and meaning: As human beings, we always seek connection. It is deep human connections that gives a meaning to our life. And when we empathize, we begin to connect more deeply. As experts like to put it, we start noticing commonality.
  • Be happy: According to a 75 years long research, good relationships keep us happier and healthier. When we start to grow more empathetic relationships with people, it strengthens our bond with them. Hence, we become happier.(Watch what makes a good life)

How can we practice empathy?

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  • Start noticing your surrounding: Be observant of others and things around you. Take a second and try to understand what a person sitting next to you is feeling. Being mindful of your surrounding is the first step towards practicing sensibility.
  • Listen: Don’t listen to answer, listen to understand. When someone is sharing their experiences or feelings with you, ask follow up questions instead of giving suggestions. Just be curious genuinely and listen with open ears.
  • Stop and talk: Take a moment and talk with strangers whenever you have a chance. At least talk to one new person in a week.
  • Don’t judge: Judging people will prevent you from being empathetic. Remember that your part of the reality is not the only one. Instead of judging, try to know people’s back story. Everyone has their own reasons and experiences. Psychologytoday  says, “Judging a person does not define who they are, it defines who you are.”
  • Spend unplugged time with your family: Spend every day for about an hour with your family without any digital distraction. Share how your day was and have meaningful conversations.
  • Open up: When someone shares his or her intimidate feelings or experience, listen to them patiently and also share yours. Empathy is a two-way channel.
  • Start with one person: Try understanding one person for truly who they are. Try to understand their perspective of the world. Have good conversations with them and try to observe and feel them. That’s where you can start.

Key takeaway

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We can grow our understanding on purpose through practice. Empathy is a beautiful skill that protects our humanity. Make it your choice to practice empathy everyday. Trust me, it will change the way you view the world. We all have the natural desire to connect. Building empathy, considering the perspectives of others, and opening ourselves to uncomfortable conversations can make that happen. 

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“Empathy doesn’t just make you good- it’s good for you, too.”-George Ordwell