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  • Writer's pictureMichele Evanson

Are you Empathetic?

We can all take a lesson from nurses around being empathetic. Again, and again, nurses tend to be the most trusted profession. They make people feel safe and cared for. Even the best nurses, however, can find out tools for enhancing their empathy. When asked about the usage of empathy with co-workers or with family or by themselves, the audience seemed sure they could do a better job.

What's Empathy? Empathy is the capacity to place oneself in the shoes of someone else. The positive definition is: The quality of understanding and feeling another individual's situation in the present moment, their viewpoints, emotions, activities, and communicating this to the individual. So, you know precisely what they're feeling, or you suspect you know just what they're undergoing, and you convey that to evoke further clarification or discussion. Empathy is an Emotional Intelligence competency. The four groups are: Self Awareness - Self Control - Social Awareness - Relationship Control - Empathy falls under Social Awareness. This skill reflects a person's capability to connect with others and to relate to them which is a vital skill in building and controlling your stresses healthful relationships. Without the capacity to understand what another is going through; our relationships stay shallow and with no depth and richness that happens whenever we share an emotional link. Opportunity is lost. Is Empathy Important? Without empathy, people have a propensity to begin life without contemplating how other individuals feel or what they may be thinking. Each of us has differing perspectives. We all experience moods, pain and hurt, joy and sadness. And we're so limited whenever we just see our own perspective. Without taking a moment to evaluate another, it's simple to make assumptions and jump to conclusions. This can lead to misunderstandings, bad emotions, conflict, poor morale and even divorce. People don't feel heard or understood.

That is a big issue. When leaders and teachers and parents listen, really listen, using empathy to comprehend what the individual is thinking or feeling without attempting to change them or fix them or solve their problem, the individual feels valued as a human being. And once individuals feel valued, they feel safe. They feel that they matter. And this means they're free to be themselves and to perform their work. There still might need to be discipline or implications to their behavior, but by using compassion first, the individual feels valued and heard and for that reason, will more easily accept liability for their actions. Empathy is the missing link in families, in our schools, and in our workplaces.

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