Empathy, as you know, is the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and understand what they are feeling or thinking and acting in accordance with them.
Many studies have proved that we are all social animals and we have a natural tendency to care about others. Thus we are genetically predisposed to empathy and forming strong bonds with other people.
However, we should nurture our empathetic side throughout our lives. And here is how to do that by implementing these 6 habits into your life.
1. DON’T BE PREJUDICED, LOOK FOR THINGS IN COMMON INSTEAD
If you have prejudices about people you’ll never be able to see their individuality and their qualities. One way you can be free from prejudices is if you look at what you have in common rather than what divides you. Because you’ll never know how much goodness may be hidden in someone if you don’t get to know them first.
2. LISTEN CAREFULLY AND BE OPEN
If you want to be an empathetic conversationalist you have to master the art of listening first. The most important thing is to be able to converse and speak about what is really going on while taking into consideration the needs and feelings that the other person has at the moment.
Second, you must be vulnerable. If you want to create a strong emotional bond with someone it is not enough that you listen to their problems, but to be vulnerable enough to reveal yours as well. Empathy is something that must be reciprocated and built on mutual understanding.
3. DEVELOP AN AMBITIOUS AND VIVID IMAGINATION
This is a trait that Gandhi possessed when he said, “I am a Muslim! And a Hindu, and a Christian and a Jew.” Being empathetic doesn’t mean that you should empathize only with people suffering on the margins of society. True empathy means empathizing with people whose beliefs and values clash with our own and being able to see things from their point of view.
4. BE CURIOUS ABOUT STRANGERS
Empathetic people have an innate curiosity about people they don’t know. They are interested in their opinions, their belief, what their life is all about. True empathy develops when we meet and talk with new people that are outside of our usual circle. That’s how we learn something new and gain new perspectives about life. That’s how we grow.
5. TRY LIVING SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE FOR A MOMENT
Absorb other people’s experience and the feelings they felt when they’ve experienced those things. They take those experiences and learn valuable lessons from them. Even if they are not good at extreme sports and they had never tried ice climbing they can feel as they did only by listening to other’s stories.
6. INSPIRE SOCIAL CHANGE AND MASS ACTION
We falsely assume that empathy can only happen at an individual level. However, only highly empathetic individuals understand that true empathy is more of a mass occurrence that brings about crucial changes in society.
Image: Daku Dark