Empathy is the ability of one person to focus on the emotional condition of another person, and to share or feel their experiences and feelings as if they were their own.
What is EMPATHY – meaning and definition in simple words.
Simple, clear answer: Empathy is the ability of one person to understand what condition or situation another person is in. You can also say that:
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the place of another person, so to speak, “to be in his shoes”, and really, imbued with his problems and experiences.
Speaking of empathy, first of all, it should be noted that this is a rather complicated, but very important ability. Empathy is the basis of any healthy relationship. Thanks to this ability, a person has the opportunity to understand how various external factors affect the emotional condition of people. This helps to make the right decisions and perform optimal actions in relation to loved ones. And this is what makes a person a good friend, colleague, husband or wife, etc.
How does empathy affect everyday life?
If we consider this ability only from the practical side, then we can list several important aspects:
- Empathy expands the perception of the world;
- Increases the level of satisfaction from love relationships;
- Improves relationships with loved ones;
- Reduces the level of aggression towards people;
- Promotes peaceful resolution of conflicts;
- Helps to fight against such prejudices as: racism, sexism, chauvinism, xenophobia and so on;
- Promotes the emergence of heroic deeds and the development of altruism;
- Balances social inequality between different classes of society;
- Contributes to the creation of a healthy atmosphere in the working environment;
- Empathy in the medical field contributes to improved emotional health among patients.
It should be noted that in addition to positive aspects, a high level of empathic response can negatively affect a person. The fact is that too high sensitivity makes him very vulnerable in emotional condition. A person with a very high level of empathy is not a strong competitor in an aggressive survival environment.
From the point of view of modern psychology, almost all people have the ability to empathize, to a greater or lesser extent. Conventionally, this degree of emotional empathy can be divided into 5 levels:
- Low level of empathy. In this case, a person has practically no ability to empathize with other people.
- Moderately low level of empathy. A person is able to pay attention to other people’s problems, but not understand and delve into them.
- Average or normal level of empathy. A person is able to enter into the position of another, think rationally and draw logical conclusions.
- Moderately conditional level of empathy. A person is able not only to delve into the problem of another, but also to understand what feelings underlie his experiences.
- High level of empathy. A person is able to almost exactly feel the emotional condition of another person.
How to develop or increase the level of empathy. Simple tips.
To develop empathic abilities in yourself, there are quite a lot of different practices, but we will give some effective tips that will allow you to slightly improve this skill.
Tip #1 Attention.
When communicating with another person, try to focus your attention on his behavior, mood, and expressions. Pay special attention to body language and make eye contact. Listen to him very carefully and delve into every word he says.
Tip #2 Ability to listen and hear.
Let the person you’re talking to be really heard.
Tip #3 Imitation.
Physically, try to mimic the other person in your own body language. In fact, this is quite simple, since we constantly do this unconsciously in relation to those people that we like.
Tip #4 Accepting other people’s emotions.
During the conversation, actively imagine that the interlocutor is you. His problems are your problems. His pain is your pain. Allow yourself to feel the sadness, pain, anger, fear, shame, or guilt that the other person feels.
Tip #5 Openness to everything new.
Try to communicate more with representatives of different cultures, social or religious groups, with people of opposite political views. Feel free to step out of your comfort zone.
Tip #6 Say no to stereotypes.
Try to get rid of stereotypes, various dogmatic beliefs, and prejudices. The fact is that it is quite difficult to really understand people when you are under the influence of stereotypical and archaic thinking.