How To Improve Empathy Emotional Intelligence
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Over the past few years, emotional intelligence (“EI”) has become one of the most popular leadership theories in business. It looks at how well you control your emotions and those of others as an important factor in achieving success.
Many employers now require employees to have strong EI skills because it is seen as a necessary talent for professionals. In fact, some companies even use it as a basis for hiring decisions!
There are several reasons why improving your empathy is so important. First, it can help you relate more effectively to other people. This makes it easier to build trusting relationships that facilitate good communication and collaboration.
Second, there is evidence that showing empathy towards colleagues or superiors may increase productivity and engagement. And we all know that unhappy workers cost corporations money by means of higher turnover rates and less efficient functioning.
This article will go into detail about five easy ways to improve your empathy. You don’t need any special training or tools beyond what already part of you — that is, if you want to see real changes.
Make eye contact
A significant part of empathizing is making direct, meaningful eye contact with someone else. When you look at someone, you are telling them something about yourself and how you perceive them.
Your eyes say a lot about you, so when trying to understand or feel for someone else, make sure your eyes are working. They should be engaged and looking directly into the other person’s face.
When you can’t bear to make eye contact, it may indicate fear or avoidance. It could also mean that you don’t think they are important enough to invest energy in. Or maybe you just don’t like what you see in their eyes.
Making eye contact isn’t only effective for empathy, it's a nice way to show respect as well.
A large part of developing empathy is listening carefully, showing interest in other people’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings, and understanding how you could relate to them.
You can improve your ability to listen by practicing it, but also making an effort to understand what others are saying comes naturally to some more than others.
There is no one way to learn how to listen, but there are several strategies that have been shown to be effective.
Some say we all have our own style of listening, and we use different ones depending on who we are talking to and what we want from them.
Others believe we develop our capacity for listening as we grow up, and that this changes as we get older.
What matters most is being able to recognize when someone needs your attention and time, and knowing how to allocate these resources effectively.
A large part of empathizing is asking genuine, thoughtful questions. When someone experiences something emotional or stressful, they often talk about their feelings. This could be talking with friends who have gone through similar things, listening to music that reminds them of what happened, looking up information about the cause, or doing anything else that helps you understand their situation more clearly.
Ask open-ended questions to get deeper insights into how others feel. You can ask if there’s anything you can do to help, why they’re acting like this, what they’ve lost since the incident, if they’ve talked to anyone about it, and so on.
This isn’t only important for whether you can help them, but also for understanding yourself better. By knowing some of your own emotions and why you’re feeling a certain way, you’ll come to terms with how you deal with stress and what things mean to you, which will improve your overall quality of life.
Don’t be egotistical
One of the biggest reasons why people lose compassion for others is because they are too focused on themselves.
This can look like thinking about how you don’t have enough money, or self-pitying about how hard your job is. It can also include feeling bad about yourself and having feelings of unworthiness due to health issues or past mistakes.
All of these things are totally normal – we all feel them at times. But if you keep drilling down on them, it can hurt someone else’s perception of you.
This is not only unkind, but it is also uncomfortable for them to watch. They may even start avoiding you out of fear that you will make their lives more difficult by pointing the finger of blame or criticism towards them.
If this sounds familiar, try changing your mentality for a while. Give yourself some credit for all that you have done, and spend time focusing on what you would like to achieve in the future rather than what you haven’t quite managed right now.
A lot of theories about empathy focus heavily on identifying with or putting yourself in someone’s shoes, but they fail to take into account that you can only empathize with people who have something going for them.
Your success as an empathetic person will depend on your ability to recognize what things are like for other people. If you cannot identify with their situation, then you will not understand why they feel the way they do. You may also be unable to help them overcome these feelings if you cannot relate to their struggle.
It is important to acknowledge that not everyone experiences life the same way you do. Some people enjoy being surrounded by lots of friends, while others prefer more solitary activities. What works for one person might make another unhappy.
You should never assume that your behavior is normal or that what worked before is the best option now, unless you have thoroughly evaluated the situation and considered all possibilities.
One of the most important things you can do to increase your empathy is to share experiences with other people. When you’re able to relate to someone else's situation or perspective, it helps you understand them better.
Everyone has different experiences that shape who they are. Your friends, family, colleagues and even total strangers go through difficult times, which you learn about and sometimes help them process.
By understanding how others feel, you show compassion and care for them. You also recognize that not everyone will be happy for you at all times, but you should try to put their needs ahead of yours unless they ask you to put yourself first.
That said, don't overdo it. Only talk about things that matter to you, and only for a limited amount of time. If you use too much energy trying to relate to someone, you won't focus on what you were doing before.
A big way to improve your empathy is to be spontaneous. When someone does something that makes you laugh or cry, take time to think about why it made you feel that way.
This could be anything from watching someone push their hair back as they look in the mirror to seeing a funny face make them break down.
It can be something as simple as noticing how well someone is doing with life after leaving a loved one behind when they travel for work or knowing what foods people like so making an effort to learn some of those recipes.
By being more aware of others’ emotions, you will understand yourself better too which is a key part in self-knowledge.
Don’t be a hypocrite
One of the biggest downfalls of people with low empathy is that they are also very hypocritical when it comes to emotions.
People who lack empathy can sometimes say or do things that seem completely out-of-the-blue, but then you realize what they were talking about before was something emotional.
For example, someone may tell you how much they loved their dog, but then take it away because they feel like you don’t love enough money. Or they may criticize your appearance, but then go up to you with a bag full of groceries just because they wanted to show off their own shopping skills.
It’s hard to know if this person actually doesn’t care about you or if they are trying to make an emotional appeal.