Simply put, empathy is being able to put yourself in the shoes of another person and see the situation from their point of view. Need further explanation? Watch these cute and funny cartoon forest animals act out the power of empathy. Yeah well, it's TED speaker Brene Brown's RSA short, so we're pretty sure the video was made for adults. Then be on your way to becoming a more empathic person with these five tips.
Listen With Your Ears… and Eyes - Suspend judgment and listen to what the other person is saying. Also pay attention to what they don’t say. Fast Company says to become a better listener, we need to change the way we think about conversation, noting the easiest change to make is to stop focusing on what you’ll say next.
What if the person’s body language doesn’t match what they’re saying? You can also get better at reading social cues to improve your presence and detect a change in the other person’s tone and manner before the conversation escalates.
Understand the Other Person’s Perspective - Harvard Business Review published an article on three ways to engage and influence people by taking in their point of view. You can even take this a step further and ask what the other person would do in a given situation—Scientific American says being curious can keep you from being defensive.
Acknowledge and Respond Encouragingly - Engage the other person and validate their perspective. Repeating or paraphrasing what they say, asking questions, and summarizing the main issue all show you’re actively engaged in the conversation.
Reflect on Your Conservations- Did you walk away from the conversation feeling amicable? Or did you get the outcome you were hoping for? Either way, take a moment to reflect and figure out what went right or wrong.
Be Mindful- We all have the ability to empathize, but it takes time and continual mindfulness to master it and use it in everyday conversation. Keep practicing empathy for better relationships at home and at work.