Empathy - the ability to recognize and appropriately respond to others' emotions.

Humans are hard-wired for connection.  We use empathy to sense what others are feeling but we can only do this if we ourselves have felt this feeling too.

Empathy is the key to understanding others and forming enduring and trusting relationships.  It is the foundation of a healthy working climate.

People who are not naturally empathic miss critical insights into others and can therefore be seen as cold or self-interested.

Empathy means making space for someone’s feelings and connecting with them on an emotional level so they feel understood, safe, and respected.

Watch Dr Brené Brown below explain the difference between sympathy and empathy.

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Ask yourself: how empathic am I right now?

To develop greater empathy, try these:

  1. Actively listen to people – listen with your ears, eyes, and heart. Pay attention and understand what they are telling you
  2. Don’t interrupt people – allow people to finish talking before you respond to what they have just said
  3. Use people’s names – people feel good when they hear their names and using their names helps you to remember them later
  4. Smile at people – it’s infectious!
  5. Give genuine recognition and praise – pay attention to people and catch them doing something right
  6. Be fully present when you are with people – don’t do anything but listen and make eye contact in a group.  Don’t let your thoughts stray and stop thinking about how you will respond once you have an opportunity

An act of empathy: handwrite a letter of authentic appreciation to someone whom you sometimes take for granted but would miss terribly if they were not there.  Thank them for all the things they do for you and apologize if necessary.

The latest research has highlighted the neuroscience that lies behind empathy


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