The world is moving in a whole new direction, where people seem to be busy all the way round. But deep down inside, they are living a detached life in despair and isolation. On the face of it, they have thousands of friends on social media, but not a single real friend in real life. Does it make any sense?
Oh! That reminds me of a personal heart wrenching experience. Let me share it with you.
It so happened recently that I went to my old place (society), and there I found an old friend (from whom I hadn’t heard for about 3 years). That person had a good job, earning well, everything was fine, but the very same person had tears in her eyes as she asked me to come and visit her at times. She said she had no one to lean onto or hang out with. I was taken aback after hearing all of it, and showed empathy that I would visit her often.
Taking inference from this example, it is extremely important to show empathy to our near and dear ones. People at home, school, college, office need your empathy.
So, let’s learn in this article about how to practice empathy in real life.
But, hang on, if you don’t know what empathy is- we will begin with the meaning is.
WHAT IS EMPATHY?
According to Merriam Webster dictionary,
Empathy is “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner”
In simpler words, Empathy is the ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of other people. Having an understanding of other people’s perception about a particular situation can be recognized as empathy.
At an advanced level, empathy empowers you to use you insights to scaffold other people through challenging scenarios and improve their mood.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SYMPATHY AND EMPATHY
Unknowingly, people often confuse empathy for sympathy. But in its real sense, these two are whole different concepts.
While sympathy means feeling sorry or pity for someone, empathy accounts for understanding and sharing the feelings of other people. For example, you can feel sympathy for even an orphan on a street, but empathy is for the people whom you know personally and understand their situations.
I think we have learned enough about empathy, now is the time to embrace how to practice empathy?
Researches show that empathy is partly innate and partly can be acquired, so let’s focus on the acquisition, and inherent empathy will foment sideways.
5 WAYS TO PRACTICE EMPATHY
1.STEP INTO OTHER’S SHOES
Talk to people and learn about how they feel and face the challenges of their life. Ask them about their perception on you shared and mutual experiences. Spend time with them and delve deeper into their lives.
These people could be your friends, colleagues, family members, relatives or any other acquaintances. Try to get under their skin to know how they feel about particular situations in life.
2. ASK QUESTIONS
In this discourse with your clients or colleagues, ask provocative and simulative questions about life. Have a list of pre-prepared 3-4 questions and hurl them in between the conversation.
Such bespoke conversation allures the clients, who feel more connected and are thus able to form trustworthy bonds with your organizations.
In case of colleagues, try to indulge in shared lunches and one-day trips to get to know people better. Moreover, as and when you see a colleague off the loop, have a talk over the coffee to elicit their problems.
3. ASSESS YOUR PREJUDICES
Believe it or not, we all have furtive prejudices or biases. These could be surreptitious or not-so-hidden prejudices. And if just so you think- you don’t have any biases; you should wake up and smell the coffee.
These biases (which could be about age, gender, sex, race, etc) often hinder in our ability to empathize. Therefore, self-introspect to examine your biases and try to be elusive of them.
4. BE CURIOUS
Do you consider yourself superior to others, and think you don’t have anything to learn from them- then you may be wrong my friend. Every person has their own abilities and talents, and you can learn something from everyone.
Consequently, be curious to learn about new things from people around you. Hear out their theories and experiences to have better insights about things that you may not have known.
5. ASK FOR FEEDBACK
One sure-shot technique to know about your empathy bubble is to ask for genuine feedback from friends, colleagues, relatives, and family. Know from them about their though-process and feedback about your demeanour. And the process doesn’t halt here. Check with them periodically to know about your progress about the same.
Empathy is one of the most important components of emotional intelligence that makes us humane. Being a social animal, you must practice empathy in your daily life and be more connected with the people around you. You never know what you small-talk could mean so much to the other person.
Keep practising Empathy!
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