5 Actionable Tips for Becoming a More Empathetic Person

It’s no secret that the rise of technology has caused our interpersonal relationships to grow increasingly diluted. It seems like the closer we get – through Facebook and the like – the less personally connected we actually become.

What’s missing? Empathy.

In simple terms, empathy is the ability to see the world through the eyes of another – to walk in their shoes, so to speak. But it’s actually a bit deeper than that.

People who are highly empathetic do not simply identify with other people, they actually sense and internalize their emotions by tapping into the well of emotion inside themselves. 

It’s this internalization that is the difference between sympathy (feeling pity for another person) and empathy (absorbing and understanding the feelings of another person). Empathy makes people feel heard.

What’s the big deal?

Empathy is a rare skill – one that we’ve slowly lost over the years. It used to be that empathizing with people was the only way to establish a genuine human connection. Empathy binds us. It heals us. And practicing it makes you a more valuable friend, lover and confidant.

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What can I do to strengthen my empathy?

Empathy is a skill – one that can be learned when practiced. Here are five actionable ways you can begin strengthening your empathy today!

1. Listen more than you speak.

It’s easy to get caught up in a conversation, not realizing you’ve gone off on a tangent or never stopped to consider the other persons thoughts or feelings.

Empathetic people listen first and only speak after they are certain the other has been carefully heard. To more fully practice active listening:

  • Set aside all distractions (cell phones, etc.).
  • Never interrupt.
  • Summarize your understanding before speaking your piece.
  • Ask insightful questions.

2. Ask insightful, open questions.

Now is a great time to tap into your curiosity. Ask nonjudgmental questions that are open ended, allowing the other person to speak without being guided by your preconceived ideas. It’s the difference between, “Did that make you feel angry?” and “How did that make you feel?”.

3. Express your empathy out loud.

Once you’ve heard the other person out (remember, right now this is about them, not you) contribute a little by voicing your empathy. In other words, comment on how you would have felt in the same situation. Here are a few examples:

  • “That must have been awful.”
  • “I wouldn’t know how to feel in that situation.”
  • “That would have broken my heart, too.”

4. Be vulnerable.

In all of the above, ensure you are remaining open and vulnerable. The only way to truly empathize with another person is to break down your own barriers, accepting emotion in its truest sense.

You will not be perceived as weak or silly. You will be found to be a true and genuine friend. Why? Because by sharing our personal insecurities, fears and mistakes, we are able to connect through our commonalities. We’re all human, after all.

5. Never assume you have the whole story.

It’s too easy to typecast or pigeon hole the people in our lives. Remember, even in deep, connected conversations, you’re probably only seeing and experiencing what’s on the surface.

So let your relationships grow! Over time you will come to know more and more of the person sitting across from you, and that is one of the greatest joys in this world.

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103 comments

Marie W
Marie W5 months ago

Thanks

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KimJ M
KimJ M6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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KimJ M
KimJ M6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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KimJ M
KimJ M6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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KimJ M
KimJ M6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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KimJ M
KimJ M6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Jerome S
Jerome S8 months ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S8 months ago

thanks

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Jim V
Jim Ven8 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jim V
Jim Ven8 months ago

thanks for sharing

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