Empathy is the ability to understand and feel what another person is experiencing. Empathy is different from sympathy, which is about ‘feeling for’ someone. Empathy on the other hand is about ‘feeling with’ someone. It is a big difference.
Being empathetic is essential for both personal and professional lives. However, it is not easy if it does not come naturally to you. The good news is that you can always learn to be more empathetic. Follow these simple things in your day-to-day conversations to become more empathetic.
- Listen more and have a genuine curiosity
- Don’t just focus on words, but also person’s emotions and body language
- Don’t be judgemental and don’t assume things, so ask ‘relevant questions’ wherever needed
- Be imaginative and try to visualize the situation of the speaker
Exercise for you: Next time when you have a conversation with someone you have difficult working relationships, try filling the below empathy map post your conversation. This map will help you better understand the person and empathize with his/her situation. Fill in for what the person says, feels, sees and hear, along with their pains and gains.
Tip: This is not an assignment; rather it is for you to better understand and empathize with the person, so fill it as you feel it. Also, don’t feel the pressure to fill all the blocks, just write what you felt and remember (trust me, if you were genuinely listening, you will remember a lot of things).
Thank you for reading. I will be eager to know your experience with empathy and utilizing the empathy map.