An empathetic person can identify with what someone else is experiencing. They may have had the same experience before. This isn’t necessary to practice empathy. You might just be very good at putting yourself in another person’s mindset.
Someone tells you they lost their job. They’re going through so many different negative emotions. They’re concerned about their mortgage payment and other financial issues.
A person that loses a dream job could start wondering what happened. It took them a long time to get the job they always wanted. They might have been a great employee. Then something occurred that was out of their control. Perhaps the company went bankrupt.
This individual could start questioning his own role in the failure of the company. A ton of different negative emotions might be experienced. The empathetic person is able to fully embrace the emotions the other person is going through even if they’ve never lost a job before.
You might want to help your friends and family members by displaying more empathy. You care about them and want to help them when they’re in need. If that’s the case, simply put into practice the following three-step technique for showing empathy.
Step 1 – Listen Actively
You might be a good listener. But are you an active listener? Do you just sit there with a blank expression and take in everything that’s being said?
An active listener uses body language, facial expressions and eye movement to let the person speaking know that they’re engaged and present. They are truly and deeply listening.
You use open-ended questions to try to get more information from the speaker. Active listening uses anything at your disposal to get the speaker to share more information. You communicate to that person that their feelings are understood.
Step 2 – Validate the Experience
People often tell you what’s on their minds because they want you to validate what they’re saying. They need to know that it’s okay to have certain feelings or think a specific way. When you validate a tough situation someone’s experiencing, you let them know they’re not alone.
You validate an experience by adopting the same feelings and emotions. Tell the person that you’re sharing the experience with them and that it’s okay. They should recognize whatever emotions are happening. Then the empathetic person tries to figure out what can be done to fix the problem.
Step 3 – Offer Advice
Empathy is a two-part process. You take on the perspective of another person. You develop an understanding emotionally of what that person is going through. The second part involves action. You provide assistance of some kind. You try to help the person with their struggle.
One way you can do this is by offering smart advice. Remember to think about their situation and not yours. Don’t include any bias or judgment. Put yourself in their shoes and then give them advice to help them out of their problem.
Showing empathy means you care. It tells people you’re putting your own interests aside for a while. The three-step process we just covered can help you show empathy to the people you care about. You’ll find that you benefit as much as they do by making an emotional connection.