Empathy is nowadays nothing new anymore. You hear this word in every corner of society, in science, in business, in politics, in education. Just talking about it doesn’t cut it, right? So, how can you expand your own empathic potential?
Let’s look at 5 habits people with high empathy show, let’s go.
#1 Be curious about strangers
As a kid we were always curious about other people. We all have been in a situation where a random kid asks you why you wear this red coat or why you don’t have any hair, right? Society has beaten this natural interest in others out of our system.
Your empathy will grow when you talk with people outside your social circle, when you meet other lifestyles and worldviews. Showing empathy is not only talking about the weather with the stranger on the bus, it is trying to attempt to understand the world of somebody else. How does this person look at the world, why is she living her life in this manner and how different are our point of views?
Challenge yourself to having a conversation with a stranger every week. You don’t need much, just a little bit of courage.
#2 Listen to people and open yourself up
If you really want to understand someone, you need to listen to what the other person is telling you. You listen to them with one goal and that is to grasp their emotional state and needs. This could be listening to a good friend who just had a devastating diagnosis or your husband who had a tough day at the office.
Being empathetic is a 2-way street, you receive by listening but you also need to give. Be vulnerable and show the other who you are, what your emotional state and needs are. By sharing your most important experiences and beliefs, mutual understanding is built.
#3 Challenge yourself
Undertake a challenging experience which pushes you outside your comfort zone. Take that dance course, learn a new language, go and travel by yourself. If it scares you, challenge yourself. Jump in the cold water. It will trigger new insights, it will humble you and it helps you to evolve your personal skills and empathy level.
#4 Replace advice by asking questions
We all know these people; you discuss a problem you have and instantly they give you advice on how to deal with that. It worked for them, so it should also work for you.
Try not to be that person. I agree sometimes it is not easy and maybe you are not even aware that you show this behavior. This approach demonstrates that you are interested more in telling your own story then wanting to understand the other person’s perspective and needs.
Instead of offering your opinion, ask questions to better understand your conversation partner.
- How does this make you feel?
- What can you do to fix this?
- What do you mean?
- Can you tell me more about that?
#5 Be fully present
This is challenging these days, everybody is 24 hours online. Every second there is something distracting, which triggers us to shift our attention to another objective. Empathetic people are able to blend out the distraction and fully focus on the person in front of them. Next time you talk to somebody and your apple watch sends you a message, ignore it. Focus on the conversation and the person. Be present. Fully.
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