The term, empathy, is one which I am hearing increasingly these days. As a psychologist, empathy is an ability that is paramount to the work we do. Some question whether empathy is a learned or natural ability, as there are some individuals who naturally possess empathy and end up in helping professions where they’re able to utilize their empathy to the maximum. However, studies have shown that empathy is something that can be learned though this typically happens early on in life through validating experiences in the home, at school, and with peers.
What is Empathy?
Empathy is the ability to understand and share how another person may be feeling. It is not the same as sympathy, though these two terms are often confused. For the record, sympathy is “feeling for” whereas empathy is “feeling with.” Empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another person; empathy is feeling with someone. Based on this description alone, you can see what an important aspect empathy plays in psychotherapy and its role in psychology. However, empathy is not only important in psychology, but it is important in your every day life. In this blog, we will discuss how empathy can benefit you in multiple areas of your life.
How it benefits you personally
Empathy benefits you personally because it allows you to view things from another person‘s perspective. It requires open-mindedness, willingness, and the desire, as well as ability, to connect with others and to be able to understand their thoughts, emotions, and experience. You can imagine that this goes a long way in your relationships (which we will explore next), but on a personal level this absolutely benefits you as an individual.
Empathy has been found to increase your ability to understand other’s needs, your own needs, how you affect others, helps you to manage interpersonal conflict, accurately predict others’ behaviors, motivate others, see the world from a “big picture” perspective, and become a better worker, friend, and leader.
How it benefits your relationships
To be a good friend, a good partner, a good lover, empathy is important part of the equation. This is because empathy allows you to connect with others in a way that is more meaningful. It allows you to be there for those who you care about, to listen with intent, to verbalize and demonstrate that you understand and that you can imagine how they are feeling, and that you are with them.
If you have consistent, reliable, and strong friendships in your life, chances are you possess a significant amount of empathy. After all, a relationship without empathy would be one of disconnect.
Conflict is an aspect of life, and that most certainly includes your life and relationships, that benefits from the practice of empathy. Take for example any situation in which you are being provided with feedback or hearing something you may immediately want to shut down or disagree with. Empathy allows you to listen to what the other person is saying and consider whether they have a point. Empathy allows you to understand their perspective, thoughts, and emotions on the matter. Empathy is a key factor in conflict resolution.
How it benefits your work
Many studies have been conducted on the role of empathy in the workplace. In fact, studies have consistently shown that those individuals who climb the corporate ladder or move into leadership roles often possess a great deal of empathy. This is because they know how to interact and connect with others, can listen to what others need, and generally display leadership qualities that allow them to propel in their career.
There is no great leader who does not possess empathy.
How it benefits success
Empathy is one of the core attributes of a person who obtains success. While success can be measured in many, many ways, it is not without empathy. This is because in order to be successful, typically a person must engage in many ongoing interactions with others. To have effective communication, to lead, and ultimately to be successful, you must have empathy when you are interacting with others.
Empathy is so important to success because empathy is part of interviewing, sales, teaching, negotiations, and effective teamwork. Essentially, any job that involves working with others – be it colleagues, superiors, employees, interns, clients, students, etc., benefits from the presence of empathy.
We can Help
The team at Tampa Therapy is here to help you make self-improvements, such as enhancing your relationships, managing conflict, being a better friend/lover/family member, and enhancing your own insight and personal growth. Empathy is within all of these areas. We would love to assist you on your journey to growth and healing. We are committed to providing a relaxing, healing, and non-judgmental environment to support you on your journey. If you want things to be different, you have to change them. Give us a call or email us today to start the process of making important changes in your life.