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In this fast crowding world, with people readily willing to trample over others, ignoring others out of habit, having empathy is said to be the most important skill we can use in real life to succeed.


1. What does empathy mean?

Simply, empathy means putting ourselves in others' shoes and see the world as they see it, leading to our better understanding of people.


Want a longer version? Well, the Merrium Webster describes empathy as the (act) of 'understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.'


Tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner (French)

It means 'To understand all, is to forgive all'.


2. Why practice empathy?

When we empathize with others, we are more likely to treat the people we care about the way they wish we would treat them. We will learn to motivate them better now that we what really motivates them. We will better understand the needs of people around us - colleagues, customers/clients. We will more effectively convince others of our point of view as now we can customize our arguments to suit their needs and strengths. This looks to be a better path to success, right? Both party getting the best deal.


As some one put it, practicing empathy makes us 'a better leader, a better follower, and a better friend.'


3. What is empathy-altrusim?

It is a form of altruism (doing good to others) based on feelings for others. The ideas was given by C. Daniel Batson, who says empathy-altruism is the good deeds we do without wanting anything in return.


4. What is empathy deficit disorder?

This is what they call a severe lack of empathy, which may cause people to behave like narcissists (extremely self-involved) or even psychopaths (not even considering people as people anymore). But recent research has found that even narcissists and psychopaths can practice empathy at will, just to get what they wanted. That means there is no shortage of empathy inside us, only a shortage of times we actually use it.


5. Empathy vs sympathy

Empathy is when we can experience the feelings of another person ('I know how much pain he is in'). Sympathy is just caring and understanding for the suffering of others ('I am sorry for your problems'). Empathy and sympathy differ on their emotional content.


6. Useful empathy statements

I read somewhere on the internet this gem of an explanation of empathy: 'An empathy statement doesn't mean it has to have happened to you. It's just that you understand or know how they feel.'


There are certain positive empathy words/phrases, which if used well can show the customer that you are not spouting empty words only. You have to let them know you really know and understand.


I definitely can understand your problem of your (insert subject) not working.

I absolutely agree this is very important that your (insert subject) begins to work again quickly.

I will surely help you get your (insert subject) working again in no time.

I certainly think we will get your (insert subject) working again in no time.

(Option X) is a fantastic way of getting your (insert subject) working again.


7. How to practice empathy


- Listen intently as the other person speaks, repeating the words (verbally, mentally), nodding in agreement, until you finally get to understand what motivates the speaker to take that position.


- Look at people in the streets and try to think who they may be, what they like, how they might feel if 'situation x' happens to them, and what they would think if they looked at you etc.


- Know your competitors/opponents: Look at the situation from their point of view. Why does that person think she is better suited for the promotion than you?


- Be the competitor/opponent: Take your point of view, and then consider the opponent's (approximate) point of view, and now think what would a third person observer would think of both your positions.


8. Using empathy to influence people


When we see the world through other people's eyes, understanding their needs, hope sand fears (it will surprise how common most people's hopes and fears are - needs are a different thing although), we can hope to understand their character and style, so we can work better along side them. The best persuaders start with understanding people first.


Thank you for reading.
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