Using Empathy Effectively
To start using empathy more effectively, consider the following:
1. Put aside your viewpoint, and try to see things from the other person's point of view.
-When you do this, you'll realize that other people most likely aren't being evil, unkind, stubborn, or unreasonable - they're probably just reacting to the situation with the knowledge they have.
2. Validate the other person's perspective.
-Once you "see" why others believe what they believe, acknowledge it. Remember: acknowledgement does not always equal agreement. You can accept that people have different opinions from your own, and that they may have good reason to hold those opinions.
3. Examine your attitude.
- Are you more concerned with getting your way, winning, or being right? Or, is your priority to find a solution, build relationships, and accept others? Without an open mind and attitude, you probably won't have enough room for empathy.
Listen to the entire message that the other person is trying to communicate.
- Listen with your ears - what is he or she saying, and what tone is being used?
- Listen with your eyes - what is the person doing with his or her body while speaking?
- Listen with your instincts -do you sense that the person is holding something important
- Listen with your heart - what do you think the other person feels?
5. Ask what the other person would do.
-When in doubt, ask the person to explain his or her position. This is probably the simplest, and most direct, way to understand the other person. However, it's probably the least used way to develop empathy.
-It's fine if you ask what the other person wants: you don't earn any "bonus points" for figuring it out on your own.
Practice these skills when you interact with people. You'll likely appear much more caring and approachable - simply because you've increased your interest in what others think, feel, and experience. It's a great gift to be willing and able to see the world from a variety of perspectives - and it's a gift that you can use all of the time, in any situation.
Here are some more tips for an empathic conversation:
1. Pay attention, physically and mentally, to what's happening.
2. Listen carefully, and note the key words and phrases that people use.
3. Respond encouragingly to the central message.
4. Be flexible - prepare to change direction as the other person's thoughts and feelings also change.
5. Look for cues that you're on target.
Developing an empathic approach is perhaps the most significant effort you can make toward improving your people skills. When you understand others, they'll probably want to understand you - and this is how you can start to build cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork.
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