Multiple studies across multiple disciplines keep telling us that empathy is good for our well-being and for the abilities of others to bounce back. Empathy is also a skill that can be developed.
A genuine concern for and interest in other people is a prerequisite to empathy. Empathy is your ability to accurately read the feelings of another person—their feelings, not yours. To empathize is to enter the other person’s world and to imagine what it must be like to be in their shoes. The ability to tune in to another person, to their feelings, improves your ability to relate to them and can increase intimacy and understanding between you and them.
Action learning tips and learning assignments on the job are a click away at EQDashboard.com.If any of the following behaviors are true of you or colleagues, you’ll find remedies at EQDashboard.com immediately useful in developing more empathy:
- Recognizes emotional reactions from others but responds by justifying, defending and explaining
- Shows no real concern with the feelings and emotions of self or others
- Focuses on the task rather than the emotional impact on those involved
- Clashes with others and lacks understanding of their concerns or viewpoints
You might also consider (a sampling of suggestions from EQDashboard.com):
Covey, Stephen. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, New York: Simon and Shuster, 1989. (Read the chapter for Habit 5: “Seek First to Understand Then Be Understood.”)
Gordon, Thomas. Parent Effectiveness Training. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1970, 2000.
Gottman, John, and Joan DeClaire. Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child. New York: Simon and Shuster, 1997.
Stone, Douglas, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen. Difficult Conversations. New York: Penguin Books, 1999.
Patnaik, Dev. Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press, 2009.