Join Gemma to learn how the ability to empathize is a huge predictor of emotional intelligence, and how you can develop your empathy to build strong relationships.
- Do you have the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and understand what they may be thinking or feeling? The ability to empathize with others is a key predictor of emotional intelligence. Empathizing provides you with a thorough understanding of the other person and helps to build strong relationships and better connections. It's a skill that you can learn to develop. Ultimately, empathy is the ability to sense other people's emotions whilst also being able to imagine what someone else may be thinking or feeling.
When empathizing, you're imagining what a situation must feel like for an individual. You're basically putting yourself in their shoes and looking at the situation from their perspective. You don't necessarily have to be able to identify exactly with the other person. You don't need to have the exact same experience to imagine what the situation may be like for them. You just need to take what you know about that person and their circumstance and imagine how they would feel, react, behave, and think about the situation.
Of course, you don't want to necessarily assume you know exactly what a situation is like for someone else, as that can actually be counterproductive. This might alienate the other person if your assumptions are incorrect. It's key to remember, when empathizing, you're not looking for the right answer as only the other person knows exactly how they think and how they feel. When developing empathy, the first thing you'll want to do is ask the other person questions to find out more about what they're experiencing and how they feel about the situation and the impact it's having on them.
If you don't have the opportunity to ask questions, you can also take a step back and imagine the possibilities of how someone may think and feel. But remember, this is your perspective and ultimately the other person will be the authority on how they feel. So, the first two steps are learning more through asking questions and listening, and imagining how the other person may feel. Along with not assuming you know exactly how someone else may think, feel, or interpret the world around them.
Another tip, when displaying your empathy, is not to agree with everything the other person says, constantly finding examples when you face the exact same challenges or situations. Although we genuinely behave like this with the best intentions, as we want the other person to know we understand what they're experiencing, it can actually be irritating for the other person if we always have an example that brings the conversation back to us.
The key here is balance. Ask questions, find out more, ask people how they feel, how they interpret a situation, and why they think and feel as they do. You can also offer support and understanding by using phrases such as I imagine that you could make you feel, or I suppose that situation could make you think. Note here, I haven't used definite statements such as it does or doesn't make you feel a certain way.
The reason for this is you want the other person to know you understand how they feel, but you don't want them to think you know exactly what the situation is for them. So, use tentative exploratory language and words such as could, possibly, maybe. Don't get too hung up on the exact language here, just remember two principles. One, ask questions to find out more. Two, offer support and understanding without assuming you have the answers or knowledge the other person requires.
Overall, the benefits of empathizing is you get a better insight into how someone else is thinking and feeling, and it gives you the opportunity to build better relationships. Ultimately, most people want to be understood and they want to make connections, whether that be in their work or personal life.
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- What is emotional intelligence?
- Watching for triggers and hijacks
- Finding flow
- Disrupting thinking
- Reclaiming reaction time
- Shifting perspective
- Listening and communicating
- Playing to strengths
- Collecting feedback
- Aligning intention and impact