How to develop empathy

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By nature, we are selfish. Almost all. In the case of the millennial generation, self-orientation has become the de facto norm. Add to this the replacement of real communication with correspondence in social networks and the forecasts of fatalist writers who claim that people have forgotten how to understand each other will no longer seem like an artistic invention. Whether this turns us into introverts is a rhetorical question both in form and content. Undoubtedly, another thing is that when we see the experiences, emotions, suffering of another person, we, as a rule, are embarrassed and do not know what to do, although we want to somehow help. In such situations, our consciousness turns to empathy – the ability to understand and respond appropriately to the emotional states of others. They are developed differently for everyone, so if you happened to reproach yourself for being “calling”, you did not know how to act in a delicate situation where the other person was openly expressing his feelings – this article on how to develop empathy will be for you interesting.


The Importance of Empathy

Empathy is understanding the emotional state and feelings of another person through empathy. This may be an expansive response to the experiences of a close or complete stranger, reaching or even exceeding the original feeling in strength. This happens when, for example, you accidentally find out that someone likes you, and after that you begin to feel sympathy in return.

The capacity for empathy does not depend on intellectual effort. In other words, this means that we cannot “force” ourselves to sympathize (or experience any other state) with all our desire. It is in our power to depict its external manifestations, to try to choose the phrases that are used in such cases, but it is impossible to force ourselves to feel the same emotion by force of will. This fact does not make a heartless robot out of a person, because some scientists believe that we are initially born with a genetically determined propensity for empathy. In the process of life (social conditions, traditions of society, experienced events), it either strengthens or weakens. And, more importantly, you can try to develop it, although it is not easy.

Why develop empathy? This phenomenon also has its downsides. A person who tends to worry about others is less protected from the negative impact of stressful situations, prone to anxiety. It really is. But there are categories of people who, due to their professional duties, simply need to be empaths. And this is not only about psychologists and psychotherapists, but also about teachers, sales managers and salespeople, HR managers and personnel officers, film and theater artists – everyone whose work is connected with people.

Therefore, the question of how to make sure that feelings do not swallow people who are prone to experiencing, with their heads, is the subject of a separate discussion. But empathy is needed for a number of reasons:

  1. Firstly, open and emotional people make new acquaintances more easily, acquire the necessary contacts. They better understand the needs of other people, their hidden motives, and on the basis of this they are able to achieve their own. They are more successful in using NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and other techniques to achieve their goals (up to manipulation).
  2. Secondly, empaths are much less likely to conflict with people, because they know how to understand their feelings and fears. They can anticipate problem situations in advance and prevent them. Such people deal with objections and negativity more easily.
  3. Thirdly, empaths are able to communicate effectively, motivate and convince others that they are right, be leaders and good friends.

How to develop empathy

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Development of empathy

If yours is in the above list of careers that involve empathic abilities, or if you just want to better understand other people around you, these few recommendations may be useful:

  • Learn to listen. This, perhaps, is one of the main requirements – not just to show complicity, but to hear a partner. Words, as you know, have power, and often contribute not only to a better understanding of the essence of the information being conveyed, but can also awaken emotions.
  • Watch people around. While waiting for the bus, standing in a traffic jam, do not take out your mobile or tablet, but look at the people around you, imagine who they could be, what they feel and think at the moment, live in your city or come from somewhere, are they happy whether they had a good day or not.
  • Whenever possible (travel, queue), spend time talking to a stranger. Be curious – this contributes to the development of empathy, because we are in dialogue with people who are outside our usual social circle and, with a high degree of probability, have different views and interests.
  • Try to put yourself in the other person's shoes. Another universal tip, as this skill helps not only to better understand people, but also to learn how to look at the problem from different angles. Take a psychological movie to watch where the main character is faced with a difficult choice, or where he is forced to act in a rapidly changing environment, and imagine how you would act in this situation. This will be a great workout.
  • Learn to identify your own feelings. It is difficult to understand something that you yourself have never experienced, and no recommendations and exercises here will replace the experience of real sensations. Therefore, develop your emotional memory, remember states and feelings – this will help you better understand others.