Empathy is a big deal. With a few exceptions, most would agree that it’s better to have more of it than less of it. It helps us connect with other people. The more we exercise empathy, the deeper the connection between people is likely to become.
Empathy is the ability to experience what someone else is going through both intellectually and emotionally. It’s not fully empathy if we just have an intellectual understanding. There needs to be an emotional ingredient for it to truly be empathy.
By definition, it’s a joining of the feelings as much as it’s a joining of the mind. Some personality types come with empathy “preinstalled” as part of their basic hard wiring. It may not be among the more prominent features of other types. Some will sit at a movie theater and cry their eyes out at the sad ending. They identify with the characters on the screen and feel their pain. Others will sit puzzled and thinking about a scene at the beginning that made no sense. They will be decidedly untouched by the protagonist’s pain. The difference is a sense of empathy.
The good news is anyone can build their ability to empathize and to understand what others are going through more deeply. But why would you want to? Most people would like their relationships to be more meaningful. Business and leadership programs are recognizing that strong-arming people to get them to do things doesn’t work any longer.
Building relationships with people is more respectful and is more likely to help them discover motivation from within. People are likely to respond in a more genuine way when genuine connections are made. In your life, people are more likely to return caring for caring.
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