The word "empathy" is now widely used by the general public. People know that it is something we should have. For example, they often say that we should show an empathetic approach toward others who are struggling. But most of us are not aware of what it exactly means. Sometimes, we are confused between empathy and sympathy since both deal with similar emotions. Sympathy is what we feel for others when they are going through a challenging situation. It is all about a pity feeling and a sense of compassion toward others. What makes sympathy differ from empathy is that sympathy is understanding others from our perspective. Empathy is our ability to understand another person from their point of view without getting influenced by emotions. Empathy means paying attention to the other person's feelings rather than your own.
Why is empathy so important?
Empathy is the best way to create a strong relationship, which helps understand others' feelings without criticism and respond appropriately. Everyone has unique experiences, thoughts, and emotions related to a particular event in their lives. So, understanding them from their point of view enables us to build a strong emotional bond with others, whereas sympathy provides a superficial level of understanding, which is not helpful for the individual who is going through a difficult time. Being empathic is critical if someone wants to maintain a work-life balance. Every individual comes from a different cultural background and with unique experiences. Thus, for sure, no two individuals think exactly alike. Therefore, we have to understand their feelings or emotions from their perspective.
From an organizational perspective, the ability of firms to to succeed in good and bad times is dependent on their ability to attract and create more talented managers and leaders. Therefore, it is necessary to explore beyond traditional management development methods to build the most critical competencies, such as empathy. Empathy is a crucial leadership competency that many people don't anticipate having it on their list. To be an empathic leader, one must be capable of perceiving and responding to the thoughts and feelings of those around them.
How can we develop empathy?
Get exposure to new people.
Meeting new people helps us to be exposed to new experience You can learn a lot about a person's life by asking them how they're doing. So, you might experience a wide range of emotions, thoughts, and viewpoints.
It's not enough just to listen to get a sense of what individuals are going through. Listening beyond their words is the only way we can learn from them. Keep your phone aside during a conversation and notice people's facial expressions, gestures, and fluctuations in voice tone.
Come out of your comfort zone.
It is a good way to develop empathy. We all have our comfort zones, where there are no challenges for us. By stepping outside of that comfort zone, we can learn about people from various cultural and racial backgrounds. Additionally, travel enhances our lives by allowing us to see the world from a new perspective.
Make sure you don't make assumptions about what other people are going through. Most of the time, it won't be a good fit. Ask others about their feelings and try to relate to what they're going through. This might help you to connect with others on a more profound level.