In my opinion empathy is one of the most important skills we can develop. Empathy allows us to sense, feel and understand the feelings and emotions of others. It is crucial to our personal development, our relationships and to society that we try to observe and assess what other people are feeling. When we learn to understand others’ feelings, not just our own, it facilitates social connectedness and positive change.
How to develop your empathy skills
Some people seem to have an easier time feeling empathy than others. If you feel that it’s hard for you to be empathetic at times, there are some ways to develop a stronger sense of empathy.
Learn to observe people
A good way to learn to be empathetic is to observe people around you and try to guess how they are feeling just by looking at their expressions, their surroundings and their behavior. This is a good exercise that we often neglect because we are so caught up in the digital world. Being curious about how other people are feeling is the first step towards a stronger sense of empathy.
Learn to be an active listener
Most people are thinking of what they are going to reply to others before the other person finishes talking. The art of active listening is to learn how to slow down and consider what the other person is saying. It’s good to take the time to analyze why a person behaves a certain way or why they have a specific ideology and argue about a certain topic.
The important thing with active listening is to be fully aware of the feelings and emotions that the other person is experiencing. This is going to make it easier for you to be able to feel empathy and understand why a person is behaving a certain way.
Open up to others
One thing that you need to keep in mind always is that empathy is basically a two-way street. This means that both people engaged in a conversation or argument have to learn as much about each other as possible in order to empathize.
This is a key element if you want to be able to find common ground even when ideologies clash. If we don’t learn to empathize, we will quickly start to see others as enemies or people who are different and problematic.
The development and practice of empathy helps to break down the walls of division and confusion and allows meaningful connection, growth and change to take place.