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You have probably heard many times about “empathizing” with someone. More than the simple fact of listening and putting oneself in the other’s place in the face of their vulnerable situation, a set of factors make up this type of interpersonal ability of having empathy, which is often intrinsic to the individual or worked on during their training.
In its etymology (Greek origin), it refers to passion or the fact of being affected by something. According to Brown (2012), the idea is to understand the concept of accepting the human being’s imperfection and vulnerability from a psychological perspective. This way, the individual will be able to put himself in another individual’s place and feel the closest possible of your reality. Vieira (2017) also points out that the lack of this competence could contribute to the construction of a repertoire of behaviors without full awareness or ability to perceive another person’s feelings in the long run.
However, balance is necessary to understand the consequences of their actions on their lives, even if these consequences are not immediate. And trying not to carry the pain of others with you is also an exercise because you are in the role of helper, and it does not mean that you must resolve the situation for the person.
How to practice empathy daily?
In the family environment
As children develop and enter social circles, social skills, including empathy, are experienced and perceived amid interactions with other people. When this skill is practiced in family life, learning from direct educators to exercise it daily helps children deal better with school challenges. It is possible to perceive positive reflexes on the child’s behavior as a whole.
According to Keep Learning School, there are three pillars for learning: teaching, experience, and example.
“If the child draws a picture of the sky and paints it purple, someone teaches them that the correct color is blue. If we want to teach her to eat alone, we give food in her mouth as an example, and then we ask to repeat the action until we get it right and have the experience. The process is simple and constant, based on the behavior of the elderly, the human being creates his list of right and wrong …”.
Therefore, seeing positive examples in one’s own house is a way to differentiate an empathic adult from one who is not. The latter example is very common in situations adults react badly and scold the child in the face of a problem that should be an opportunity to empathize.
According to Lawrence Kutner, Ph.D., during the age of five or so, it is possible to teach the child to learn about empathy using hypothetical situations, such as how he would feel when another child did something wrong with him. When the child grows a little more and begins to differentiate his feelings from others, he realizes that each human being reacts differently.
In work and business environment
At work, the subject needs to recognize the need for another colleague or client to help him, whether in carrying out a daily task or a big negotiation. For example, in the health area, a nurse needs to understand the patient’s complaints and then direct him to the most appropriate doctor. In an office, a new co-worker who still has difficulty using a system and needs training but was not offered help initially, an empathic action will be to provide assistance or direct him to the most suitable person to do so.
As in other types of relationships, in business, it is also essential to have empathy between the parties, from the first contact to the moment of closing a sale or partnership. Understanding the other person’s perspective, avoiding judgments, recognizing some of the emotions that these people demonstrate, and responding proportionately are some of the empathy exercises that must be observed and practiced daily in the context of organizations. Hence, it is possible to list some of the crucial actions to start being more empathetic:
Empathy means to pay attention and listen
It is boring to say something meaningful, and the other person is touching the cell phone, isn’t it? How does your potential client/partner feel when he is talking, and you are distracted by something that has nothing to do with the conversation?
When we listen to the other party’s questions carefully, instead of using that time to think about possible answers, empathy happens. In addition to helping you, this will help you build a more concrete solution to understand better their intentions and how to communicate with them in the future. The more we grasp a situation, the more easily it is resolved together.
Ask as many times as necessary until you understand
Asking means that you were paying attention to what the other was saying and showing an interest in understanding more about the other’s problems. Try to understand the emotional characteristics and motivations that are intrinsic to the other person’s response. Curiosity about the other is a critical point to increase your empathy.
One of the techniques used when learning a little more about the topic and putting it into practice is paraphrasing what the other said to confirm that you understood the information correctly. Putting what was told in their words can demonstrate that you heard and were interested.
However, remember that empathy does not mean solving other people’s problems.
As stated above, advising others is not always the best way to be empathetic. If the person needs advice, he will ask since he is already comfortable after being listened to and understood, and thus an intimate moment in the relationship was created. Understanding their interests and listening to the prospect’s problem with attention already improves the interpersonal relationship greatly.
Are there still doubts about why soft skills (interpersonal skills) are the most requested by the market today? Building solid relationships with stakeholders depends on trust and empathy. Comprehend the other’s intentions and offer the best that the company has for that relationship works wonders. If you want to learn more about soft skills, be sure to visit the Psychology section on our blog.