Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. But, do you know what it really means to be an empathic person, and how can you be more so in your day-to-day life?
When someone tells us about a problem or is going through a delicate moment, sometimes we use extreme sympathy to make them feel better. First of all, we have to tell you that this is completely normal. Ultimately we are human beings and when we see that someone is having a hard time, we do whatever it takes to make that hard drink pass as soon as possible.
However, sometimes we do not realize that perhaps the other party is only looking for a shoulder to lean on, a person who understands at all times what he is going through. And therefore, phrases like “Don’t worry. It is not so bad” or “Sooner or later it will pass you” can cause an opposite effect in the person.
This is what separates empathy from sympathy, two very different concepts that we will try to differentiate through the following lines.
Empathy is nothing more than putting yourself in the place of the other
This is one of the most important traits of empathy. This basically consists of putting yourself in the place of the other person, leaving aside prejudices or previous experiences with the sole objective of understanding the person in front of us at all times. No matter what it has done (at least for now). In that delicate moment, the only thing that this person is looking for is to feel heard and supported on the subject they are dealing with.
To do this, an empathic person will listen fully actively to the other party, without making many interruptions in order to extract all the relevant information and finally make a value judgment as objective as possible.
Once this is achieved, it will be possible to jointly seek a solution between the two that ultimately helps the affected person to feel better. Therefore, to be empathetic, it is very important to choose the words that we are going to say. Remember that at that moment, the other party is only looking for a shoulder to lean on and expel all the anger, problems, stress and frustrations that they have with someone they absolutely trust.
Empathic people always offer unconditional support
Many empathetic people know perfectly well what that important friend or relative is going through since they have been in a very similar situation throughout their lives. For this reason, they are always willing to offer conditional support when things are not going well.
And for this, when the other person is having a hard time, they know that saying nice or pleasant things is sometimes not enough. Even these can be counterproductive as we explained at the beginning of the article.
And so what can we do to make that loved one feel better? Simply saying: “Don’t worry, I’ll be there to support you and help you whatever happens” can be a great relief for the person in front of us. From there, it will be seen what we can do to get the other party out of this problematic situation. But that’s something we’ll see more of in the long run.
Empathy is also knowing how to interpret emotions
In summary, it can be said that empathy is a social skill that is characterized simply by putting yourself in the place of the other, knowing what they feel and “reading” both their thoughts and emotions. What’s more, empathic people are able to interpret all the non-verbal communication of the other person to know at all times how they feel. And, there are many people who do not know very well how to express their feelings and that is why it is very important to be empathetic to help them externalize them.
And how can we achieve a high degree of empathy? Surely many of you will ask. Well obviously there is no magic way. It is a matter of working it little by little through different experiences that we go through throughout our lives, something that will help us enormously to advise any friend or family member and therefore gain empathy.