Empathy is key to understanding others and forming deeper connections, by having the ability to put yourself in their shoes.
This article explores why empathy is so important, and three simple ways you can improve your own empathy skills.
Empathy is learned. Some people are naturally more empathetic in their ways due to upbringing and life experience. Others must work harder to empathise, and this is okay too! You may think you are either extraordinarily empathetic or less tuned into your empathic side. Either way, you can always broaden your empathy skills to strengthen connections and make life flow a little easier.
Empathy in Relationships
The nature of your relationships with others – family, friends, co-workers and the rest – can reflect your ability to empathise with others. If you’re feeling distant or disconnected from the people in your life, it could be to do with how you’re interacting.
Sometimes it’s hard to be kind and understanding of other’s when you’re in a bad place, stressed, tired and overwhelmed. However, it’s important to maintain healthy relationships the best you can, especially with those who offer you their emotional support.
Having a good sense of empathy can help you to learn about how other people process life. Everyone feels things differently, right? And everyone else has their own stuff going on. Therefore, it’s extremely important to treat people with kindness – as you’d wish to be treated yourself! Something that may not bother you could have a knock-on effect on someone else.
Understanding how to practice and increase your empathy can have a significant effect on your view of life, relationships and work.
Empathy is a crucial skill when socialising. A large amount of your social skills and interactions are built around empathy, for example in the conversations we have every day.
3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Empathy Skills:
1.Change how you have conversations. Be curious and attentive. This means asking questions with genuine interest and listening more deeply…
2. Tune in to emotion – notice when someone is off beat or seems low and ask them a question to show your support:
“You don’t seem yourself today mate, is everything okay?”
“I sense that you’re feeling a bit low, do you want to talk about it? I’m here for you.”
Asking these questions is a source of good feelings for both you and the person you’re talking to. It shows that you care and helps them to feel supported.
3. Ask for feedback. Check in with your loved ones to evaluate your relationship skills. You can do this by asking questions such as:
“Do you feel like I listen enough to your needs and feelings?”
“Is there anything I can do to improve? I want to make sure you feel heard.”
What to expect by using these three techniques.
Using these three techniques, you can examine how and when you do or don’t use empathy in your day-to-day life, and whether there is a need for change. You never really know what is going on in someone else’s life unless you dig a bit deeper.
People appreciate being listened to properly and will often mirror your efforts. Even taking a moment out of your day to check in with that friend who’s been a bit quiet recently or that employee who looks particularly tired and stressed will strengthen your connections and trust with others.
Empathy in the workplace.
More than ever, now is the time to be empathetic in the workplace. Everyone has endured a stressful and anxiety provoking time in their lives, where work life has changed and the balance has been altered.
A new study of 889 employees by Catalyst found that when people felt their leaders were more empathetic, 86% reported they are able to navigate the demands of their work and life—successfully juggling their personal, family and work obligations.
76% of people who experienced empathy from their leaders reported they were engaged compared with only 32% who experienced less empathy. These results indicate that empathy between leaders and employees is crucial for work enjoyment, and trust. This can look like checking in on employees to make sure they aren’t overwhelmed or burnt out. Showing an interest in the wellbeing of staff and raising awareness around mental health. Speaking to each other with respect and never raising your voice when you feel frustrated. Giving parents the option of flexible work arrangements. Just generally being kind and compassionate will go a long way!
Self-Empathy (Aka Self-Compassion). What About You in all of This?
Empathy is best when it’s mutual, and even better when it can be applied to the way you feel about yourself too. These are the three stages of self-compassion:
Being empathetic towards yourself can look like catching yourself when you are overworking and giving yourself time to rest. Understanding your individual needs and wants and allowing yourself time to have fun and relax. Not beating yourself up over your mistakes, avoiding self-criticism and acknowledging your every achievement. Mindfulness is about being in a present moment, which is important when looking after mental health and wellbeing. For working dads, this could mean allowing yourself time to be free of thoughts about work when you’re with your friends and family, to focus solely on spending quality time with people. This takes self-control, and practice.
Check out our articles for more advice on being present and having better conversations at home:
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