Empathy is essential to our everyday lives. It helps us to communicate more effectively, build better relationships, and improve our negotiation skills. Essentially, empathy is the ability to understand another person's perspective. It involves putting yourself in somebody else's shoes to understand their thoughts and feelings. The good news is that contrary to popular belief, this skill does not have to be something you were born with. There are various things you can do to improve your empathy and reap the rewards.
1. Practice mindful listening
is all about being able to see a situation from another person's point of view. If this doesn't come naturally, it's time to start practicing mindful listening. Please make an effort to truly listen to somebody when they speak, rather than getting distracted by other things that are going on. Focus on their expressions and their body language, only asking questions or making a comment when necessary. Try to listen more than you talk to really take in what the person is saying.
2. Ask questions
you don't understand something or are unsure why somebody has reacted a certain way, ask. Sometimes a simple question is all it takes to get two people on the same page. Learn to ask the right questions courteously to improve your empathy. It will help you to learn about other people's feelings and the way they have perceived a situation. It is also likely to reduce conflict as you have shown genuine interest in their side of the story.
3. Seek feedback
with all skills, feedback plays an essential role in development. If you are trying to improve your empathy, ask feedback from people so that you can track your progress. Identify a particular behavior that you want to focus on (asking more questions, for instance) and then ask people to assess you on this behavior when you have interactions. This feedback will be helpful to your overall growth as you will learn where you need to improve.
4. Identify your biases
all have biases – it's a part of human nature. The problem is that these biases can impact our ability to be empathic. If we strongly believe a certain thing, we may not be able to understand another person's perspective if their ideals conflict with our own. Spend some time engaging in self-reflection so that you know your biases and can be aware of when they impact your behavior.
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