Genuine empathy works like magic. Real magic. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s something you give to others. Empathy can be used as a salve to repair a difficult situation. Or to foster a deeper connection with others. Empathy is multi purpose. You can use it at home, at work, in social situations. Empathy can be applied locally and at a global level.
Genuine empathy is real magic because it’s a quick fix. It works. Genuine empathy can open and reopen doors.
Empathy needs to be genuine. It’s more than an attitude. Although that’s a good place to start if you’re yet to master it.
Empathy is a mission to connect at a deeper level with another person. Sometimes it can be as simple as making sure that the other person feels heard.
Other ways to show genuine empathy to someone in need of support would be to:
- Be present, and remain free of any distractions.
- Listen with purpose so that you recognise the other person’s situation.
- Ask questions out of genuine interest.
- Avoid giving unsolicited advice or feedback.
- Look the other person in the eye.
- Be open minded. Put aside your own biases so you can accept their opinion.
- Acknowledge their feelings.
- Share a similar situation of your own.
- Ask how you can assist. What can you do or say that would support them now?
Anything less than genuine empathy can cause psychological harm. That’s why it’s a superpower.
Genuine empathy is heartfelt. You can’t fake it. For that, it depends on your other superpower. Self awareness. Because once you start giving empathy, you’ll need to make sure you replenish it. You can’t give what you don’t have.
To be self aware means to possess conscious knowledge of your own character and feelings. You need to be capable of supervising your thoughts, emotions and behaviour.
According to Dr. Tasha Eurich, an organisational psychologist, researcher and author, self awareness is the meta-skill of the 21st century. The Oxford Dictionary states that: Meta, short for meta-key, is a key on some keyboards which activates a particular function when held down simultaneously with another key.
Empathy pivots on self awareness.
How do you supervise your thoughts, emotions and actions so that you have enough empathy to not only sustain yourself, but to share with others? Could this question hold the answer to why some people don’t, won’t or can’t provide genuine empathy? Because it will cost them too much energy? Maybe they don’t know how to adequately supervise their thoughts, emotions and behaviour? You can read about how to do that here. Or maybe they’re just mean spirited?
Whatever their reasons or excuses may be, you can’t control others. However, you can and should continue to make real magic by being genuinely empathic. It’s your personal contribution to the evolution of consciousness within the collective soul.