Empathy is a skill that you can develop early in life. Children as young as five can begin to learn about empathy by discussing hypothetical problems. By the time they reach the age of eight, they can engage in more complex moral decisions. They must understand the feelings of others. They can also use their empathy to show compassion.
Learning to be empathic
In today’s world, companies must learn to be empathic. They should deliver products and services that help people grow and develop. By adopting an empathetic approach, they can improve customer experiences and foster employee engagement. Empathy is a powerful business skill that is best developed within the organisation. According to Businessolver’s State of Workplace Empathy report, 93% of employees would prefer working for an empathic company. Furthermore, 87% of CEOs agree that empathy is correlated with financial performance.
Empathy requires putting aside one’s own point of view to understand someone else’s perspective. In doing so, it is important to examine the other person’s perspective and understand that their actions are a reflection of their prior knowledge and experiences. The best way to practice empathy is to listen carefully to other people, to observe their actions and to follow your instincts.
Some people find it difficult to develop empathy. For these people, formal training may not be helpful. Moreover, there are many people who lack the motivation to learn how to be more empathic. For example, sex offenders and autistic people may find it difficult to learn how to show empathy. However, there are ways to develop empathy in adults without formal training. For instance, one can practice observing others to see if they display signs of emotions, such as facial expressions, postures, sighs, and the content of their speech.
Keeping judgements in check
It is important to keep judgements in check when you are trying to develop empathy. The way empathy can skew our moral judgments is similar to how prejudice skews our judgments. This is why it is essential to develop empathy as early as possible. The goal is to develop empathy so that we will be better equipped to understand and communicate with others.
The process of building cognitive empathy involves making educated guesses about what another person is feeling. This is particularly important because people often misinterpret the meaning of people’s facial expressions and physical movements. For example, a smile may mean happiness to some, but it can also mean sadness to others. When making a judgement, consider what you already know about the other person and how much you could learn about their circumstances. Remember, your initial impression of another person is largely influenced by your own experiences and past experiences, and may be incorrect.
Reframing negative situations can help decrease the negative judgments we make about others. For example, instead of judging someone who cut you off in traffic, assume that they are driving to the hospital to pick up their injured child. When we do this, we can develop empathy and compassion.
Active listening skills
Empathetic listening is a skill that can help you get to know people better and communicate more effectively. It can also help you in your personal relationships and at work. Empathic listening is a structured listening style that helps you understand what the speaker is saying. In this technique, you must listen carefully and reflect back to the speaker what you have heard.
When listening to someone, you should try not to criticize or ask for advice. You may disagree with the speaker’s actions or thoughts, but you should try to understand why they are doing those things. Moreover, you should try to keep the information that the speaker has shared confidential. If you find out that the person is angry or upset, you should not give advice or comment on the topic.
Being an active listener involves a lot of effort. It requires you to tune in to the conversation and block out any other distractions. It takes time to learn to be a good listener.
Focusing on other people’s feelings
The process of developing empathy involves learning to understand the feelings of others. In many cases, this means questioning our automatic reactions and assumptions. It also involves applying this skill to everyday interactions. While experts say that empathy helps us understand other people’s emotions, there are risks that can be associated with it.
Empathy is a complex social-cognitive process that involves a range of mental processes. If we try to feel exactly what another person feels, it can lead to depression and poor well-being. Plus, it doesn’t actually help the person who is struggling. That’s why empathy is important to learn, but you don’t need to share your own feelings to be helpful. Instead, you can develop cognitive and emotional empathy to help a person in need.
Putting yourself in another person’s shoes is difficult if you don’t know enough about them. So, try to read about other people’s backgrounds, join social organizations, and make conversation with new people. As you gain more knowledge, your empathy will grow.