Empathy, a gift or a skill?
Do we recognize the feelings of other people? Do we understand why others feel the way they feel? Empathy is the ability to feel with others, to experience the emotions of others as if they were their own. Empathy is a gift or a skill? It is a quality, an educational value, that we can develop from childhood and empower in our personal relationships.
How many times have we been worried or anguished about something and have we met someone who simply with a glance, with a gesture or a timely word, has made us feel better? In this case, the empathic capacity of this person is what has contributed to our improvement.
What is empathy, a gift or a skill?
It is not easy to find a definition that describes thoroughly and comprehensively what empathy is. However, we can distinguish three notorious qualities that identify empathy and that must be taken into account when understanding it:
- The ability to understand others, put yourself in the place of the other.
- Being able to reproduce an affective state that is in tune with that felt by others.
- Execute the appropriate behaviors to solve the other person's problem.
It is not necessary to go through the same experiences and experiences to better understand those around us, but to be able to capture the verbal and non-verbal messages that the other person wants to convey to us, and make them feel understood in a unique and special way.
Empathy, educating in values
Empathy occurs in all people to a greater or lesser degree. Empathy is not only a special gift with which we are born, but it is a quality that we can develop and strengthen. For example, fostering attitudes such as: listening with an open mind and without prejudice; pay attention and show interest in what they are telling us; Do not interrupt while you are talking to us and avoid becoming experts who are dedicated to giving advice instead of trying to feel what the other feels.
Ways to express empathy
1. Ask open questions. Questions that help to continue the conversation and make you see the other person, a friend for example, who are interested in what you are telling us.
2. Try to move slowly in the dialogue, in this way we are helping the other person to take perspective of what is happening to him, let the thoughts and feelings go in unison and give us time to assimilate and reflect on the subject.
3. Wait to have enough information, before giving our opinion, that is, making sure that the other person has told us everything they wanted and that we have correctly heard and interpreted the essentials of their message. Sometimes, others do not need our opinion and advice, but to know that we are understanding them and feeling what they want to convey to us.
When we have to give our opinion about what they are telling us, it is very important to do it constructively, be sincere and try not to hurt with our comments. For this you have to be respectful of the other person's feelings and thoughts and openly accept what you are telling us.
Barriers to empathy
There are a series of barriers that usually prevent this approach. Among the errors that we usually commit more often when it comes to relating with others are:
- The tendency to downplay what worries the other and try to ridicule their feelings.
- Listen with prejudice and let our ideas and beliefs influence when interpreting what happens to them.
- Judge and go to phrases like "what you've done is wrong", "this way you're not going to get anything", "you never do anything right" ...
- Be an example for having gone through the same experiences.
- Try to encourage without further ado, with phrases like "encouragement in this life everything is overcome".
- Give the reason and follow the current ...
All this, all it does is block communication and prevent a good empathic relationship from occurring.
Advantages and disadvantages of empathy
1. Be a highly empathetic person It can have its disadvantages, because these people are very aware of a complex universe of emotional information, sometimes painful and intolerable, that others do not perceive.
2. Young people who have empathy they are much more adapted to the subtle social cues that indicate what others need or want. This makes them better in certain professions that involve a social relationship.
3. People who are overly self-aware they have more difficulty thinking about others and putting themselves in their place.
4. People who develop this skill little They tend to have problems because they easily arouse the discomfort of others. And precisely because of their inability to recognize the feelings of others, they fail to understand well why others are upset.
5. Empathy is a decisive capacity for life, because it affects a wide spectrum of vital needs: the good progress of a relationship, teamwork, exercising authority, having friends, in short, for almost everything.
6. Being empathetic does not mean agreeing with the other, nor does it imply leaving aside our own decisions to assume those of others. That is, we can be in complete disagreement with someone, but we should try to respect their position; and, above all, above the ideas we respect the person and we are interested in their problems.