Empathy, in the word of another, is “gold”. It is the “magic dust” that we can offer each other in any moment. It gives understanding and comfort, provides clarity and insight, reduces tension and conflict, and above all strengthens relationships. Empathy is at the heart of good communication and great connections.
Empathy is also hard to do. When practicing empathy, we set aside our own needs, opinions and feelings temporarily and work at trying to listen and understand what the other person is experiencing.
Be curious and ask yourself…
What is she thinking?
How does he understand what is happening?
What is he feeling?
What are the emotions she is experiencing at this moment?
We then let the other person know in our own words our best guess as to what he or she is thinking and feeling. It’s okay if we haven’t got it quite right – it’s that we’re trying to understand that can be so healing.
Empathy does not mean you agree with the other person’s perspective or behaviour – it is merely about conveying understanding. It is not a quick-fix or about creating a “Hollywood ending”. Meaningful growth and change is a gradual process. It doesn’t even win arguments because it is not about who is right or wrong. It is a powerful experience, though, when, in that moment, you know that the other person gets you. You are not quite so alone anymore but know that, in fact, you belong…