Showing empathy to others is a sign selflessness and compassion. While being empathic comes easily to some people, others must work hard to intentionally show that they care. Taking the time to understand someone's situation and feelings gives you the opportunity to walk a mile in his shoes. Communicate your empathy to others by deliberately responding with genuine concern and care.
Listen Without Interrupting
Take the time to listen intently when someone is sharing feelings about a situation with you. Resist the temptation to solve the problem with advice. Put yourself in her place and embrace her emotions so you can better understand what she needs, says Roman Krznaric, Ph.D., in his article "Six Habits of Highly Empathic People," for the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Listening without interrupting can help you open yourself up to others and experience their feelings, enabling you to better communicate empathy.
Learning to see things from another's perspective is a key element in expressing empathy. Choose certain phrases, such as "I can see ... " or "It sounds like you feel ... " to communicate your concern. Medical professionals trained in empathic responses are taught to name, understand and explore patients' emotions, respect their wishes or positions and offer support, according to the document "Expressing Empathy to Patients" from Dalhousie University. These techniques are not just for doctors or nurses, but for anyone who wishes to show empathy.
The quick pace of modern life often leaves little time for deep conversations. Many people would rather communicate with a short text or post on social media instead of having a conversation face to face or on the phone. It's hard to show empathy if you cannot make the time to talk to your friends and family. Find a balance that allows you to focus your attention on others' needs while not neglecting your own self-care, says Karla McLaren, author and researcher, in her article "The Six Essential Aspects of Empathy, Part 5: Concern for Others."
Behavior to Avoid
If you desire to become more empathic, determine whether you are struggling with inattentive or unconcerned reactions and begin to learn new techniques that communicate empathy. Refrain from impulsive or insensitive responses, gossiping, emotional overreactions or impolite behavior, notes Emporia State University professor George B. Yancey, Ph.D., in his article "Examples of Good and Bad Interpersonal Skills at Work." When empathy does not come naturally, you may need to avoid selfish and impersonal behavior that can interfere with your ability to be compassionate.
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