Lately we’ve been hearing about the importance of people having empathyThere is even talk that brands should also be empathetic, but do we really know what empathy is?
Empathy is a feeling that allows us to perceive and understand what other people may be feeling and therefore, an essential quality to see the world with more love and compassion. However, there can be confusion with the use of this term and so we clarify what empathy is and what it is not.
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What is empathy
Let’s start with the simplest definition of what empathy is, which is the one given by the RAE: ‘feeling of identification with something or someone’, ‘ability to identify with someone and share their feelings’.
When we talk about empathy, we are referring precisely to a person’s capacity to perceive and understand what another person is feeling. perceive and understand what another person is feeling at a given moment, or as we would colloquially say, ’empathy’.or, as we would say colloquially, the capacity we have to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.
This does not mean that we have the same opinions, that we agree with their emotions or that we feel the same and therefore understand them. In reality, empathy has to do with the ability to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and understand what they feel and what goes through their mind, from their perspective and not from ours.
This is why, in order to feel empathy, we start by validation of the feelings and motivations of the other person, regardless of whether they haveThis is why, in order to feel empathy, we start from the validation of the feelings and motivations that the other person has, without taking into account if these have the same importance if we were to see it from our own scale of values.
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Characteristics of empathy and how we demonstrate it.
We may now think that we are empathetic people because we have surely been in situations where we have been able to understand the feelings of others. However, there are certain components that define what empathy is and whether we actually experience it.
1. True listening
A fundamental part of empathy is true listening. to what others have to say. Part of this “listening” is to perceive and understand what the other person is telling us nonverbally with their gestures and movements, as well as paying attention to their arguments and words.
When we are empathic people we demonstrate this by being active in this conversation, looking the other person in the eye, asking questions, nodding our heads and more than anything else, showing our willingness to be there paying attention to what the other person has to say.
An essential part of empathy is understanding what the other person says and feels regardless of whether we agree with it or not. with it or not. It is the moment in which we validate their emotions, and we put ourselves in the other person’s place.
Through our gestures and words of understanding we show this understanding to the other person; also when we leave judgments elsewhere, we avoid certain comments that could make him/her uncomfortable and we show our sensitivity.
3. Emotional support
Just by showing empathy towards the other person, listening and understanding, you are helping them emotionally. This also includes giving certain advice, using phrases of encouragement, using humor to lighten a situation and using gestures of brotherhood such as a hug, a caress or a small pat on the shoulder that show you care. that show you care.
Can all people empathize?
Absolutely all of us come into the world with the appropriate neurological components to feel empathy. If you think about it carefully, empathy is also a survival mechanism that is activated to better understand our environment, the person we have in front of us and to be able to generate bonds and deeper relationships with them.
Just as we have people around us who are capable of understanding everything, there are also people who we consider zero empathetic, selfish and who are not able to see beyond the situations of others; these are people who have not developed empathy.
But the truth is that our brain has neurons in charge of allowing us to establish this connection with other people. allow us to establish this connection with other people, to put aside our emotional worldWe can put aside our emotional world so that we are more receptive to people or circumstances at a given moment.
So, if all people can feel empathy, why are there people who show a total absence of it? The reality is that all of our emotions our emotions and feelings are molded according to our experiences. that we have in our childhood, so the social context in which we grow up, our family, education and the stimuli we receive, are responsible for whether we are people with a developed empathy or not.
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Empathy can be cultivated
Fortunately, empathy is a feeling that we can cultivate and exercise day by day, being more aware of certain aspects to develop empathy.We can cultivate empathy by being more aware of certain aspects to improve and activating the three essential factors that define what empathy is: active listening, understanding and emotional support, starting with taking a little more interest in the people around you and getting involved with them and with the situations.
The truth is that empathy significantly improves your emotional bonds with other people, changes your perspective and your view of things, helps you resolve conflicts better, makes you a more respectful person, improves your emotional intelligence and helps you develop leadership, collaboration and negotiation skills. But best of all, it makes you feel better about yourself.
What empathy is not
Now that you know what empathy is,** we must make some clarifications about what generates confusion and what is not empathy**. Many times we think that because we are able to see that the other person is angry, sad or happy we are empathetic people, but this is nothing more than the ability to identify and recognize types of feelings and emotions in others.
Remember that in order to feel empathy, in addition to recognizing the emotions of the other person, you must be able to understand and feel them.
On the other hand, don’t overact with empathy and manage it intelligently, because too much empathy can cause us to become emotionally disconnected from ourselves and we can’t really recognize when emotions are the other’s or our own. This is another case of what is not empathy but something more akin to living through others.
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