Developing Empathy

What is Empathy? Empathy is your ability to accurately hear and understand the unspoken words of other people.  It includes your active interest in their concerns.

There are four levels of Empathy: The first level of Empathy requires you to listen to other people.  Not just hear them, but actually listen.  The next level is when you are able to read non-verbal cues, including body language.  The third level of Empathy is when you are open to diversity of all kinds.  Finally, the highest level of Empathy is when you can truly see a situation from someone else’s perspective,  imagine how they feel and show them that you care.

You have Empathy if you can read between the lines of a conversation and you adjust your behavior based on these cues.  Ultimately, you appreciate not only what is said but why is not said.

You may want to improve your Empathy if you use stereotypes to categorize people.  If you act without thinking about how it will impact others. If you have ever been told you come across as “cold” or “uncaring,” you may also want to improve your Empathy.

The most effective way to develop Empathy is to create a regular (weekly) schedule of instances where you can practice showing empathy to others.  Set specific goals for listening to people when you would rather push them aside.  Use open-ended sentences to listen to others. Train yourself to be comfortable in silence.  Don’t just speak or act to “fill the air.”  Identify the last time you felt something deeply, when you showed someone you cared. What did they do? How did this make you feel? How you do you feel about the person?

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