Increasing Our Empathy…

Have you ever wondered why empathy is so important? Empathy is one of the best ways we can understand and relate to other people, which is a critical component of healthy relationships. Without empathy, it is much more difficult to create connections with others helping us to build relationships. Those healthy relationships are the basic foundation for everything that The Mandt System teaches.

But, how do we develop empathy in ourselves and also in others? We can talk about how important it is to put ourselves in their shoes, or discuss the benefits of considering things from someone else’s perspective. We can even read books or articles about empathy. However, ultimately we need to get to the point of “walking the walk” and putting everything we know about empathy into action.

That means habitually listening more than we talk. Really listening though. Not allowing distractions that might prevent us from being able to clue in to how a person feels. Empathy starts when we make the conscious decision to listen for feelings, remembering that listening doesn’t just happen with our ears. What is that person’s body language telling us?

As soon as you are able to recognize the emotions of others, you’re in a much better position to be empathetic. Empathy is understanding what that person might feel (as opposed to focusing on how this situation would make us feel). True empathy is a bit scary since we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open to recognizing the emotions of others. The good news is we are also in a position to be able to help someone find a path out of that pain. True empathy means that we can fully understand how a person might feel, but since the situation is not happening for us specifically, we are able to help.

Empathy does allow us to understand, recognize and identify the emotions of others. It also allows us to help the person be able to make some changes in their own life. As these people start to move past the negatives the positive impacts will benefit not just that person, but also us.

What are some things you do in an effort to increase your ability to be empathetic? We’d love to hear from you!

Nikki Wince, Director of Faculty Development

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