EMPATHY – A KEYWORD IN THE PANDEMIC AND BEYOND

The Coronavirus pandemic with resultant trauma of illness, loss of loved ones and loss of livelihoods will be with us forever. Although a pandemic was predicted, we could not have predicted or imagined the destruction it was going to cause. Growing empathy and compassion quotients are new strategies businesses have adopted and they are now seen as new values in business. 

Roman Krznaric of Six Habits Of Highly Empathetic Persons and Greater Good Magazine, says that the, “The 21st century should become the Age of Empathy, when we discover ourselves not simply through self-reflection, but by becoming interested in the lives of others. We need empathy to create a new kind of revolution. Not an old-fashioned revolution built on new laws, institutions, or policies, but a radical revolution in human relationships.”

Krznaric says, in the above mentioned quotation, we need to use empathy to create a “radical revolution in human relationships”. Today, the idea of this “new kind of revolution” as he calls it, has met its kairos moment – meaning “the right, critical, or opportune moment” (Wikipedia). There is no better time than the present for us to be conduits of empathy to our family members, work colleagues, customers, neighbours and our wider community/society at large.

“Recently, the expression “we are all in this together” has become a type of mantra whose truth should resonate with each of us. Now more than ever, we all need empathy – immunocompromised persons who are fearful of contracting a deadly virus, workers who have been recently laid off or furloughed, parents who are concerned about the education and safety of their children, business people whose businesses are threatened, and people with a heightened sense of uncertainty about the future. We all need empathy, and Now Is The Time to show empathy in unprecedented ways!” 

INCREASING OUR EMPATHY QUOTIENT

Let’s face it, where empathy is concerned, we are not created equal. Some of us are indeed more empathetic than others. The good news is that we can increase our empathy quotient. Here are some things that we can do to evolve into more empathetic social beings:

 RECOGNIZE OUR KEY DEVELOPMENTAL AREAS

  • Understand why we need to increase our empathy quotient.
  • Recognize the areas in which we need to develop empathy.
  • Identify and rank our top three priorities.

BROADEN OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE HUMAN CONDITION

  • Get to know other people’s hearts and minds – their worldviews, life experiences, perspectives, feelings, and concerns in order to build our understanding of their situation. The idiom, “walk a mile in my shoes” comes to mind here meaning you should truly try to understand someone before criticizing them. 

DEVELOP GREATER COMPASSION

  • Seek to develop greater compassion by helping or serving disadvantaged persons like the homeless, the disabled or abandoned children.

ESTABLISH CONNECTIONS

  • Find ways to connect with someone else’s situation: For example, you may not have experienced the loss of a pet but you may be familiar with the loss of a loved one. In this way, try to identify with others and their emotions. 

In order to build our empathy competence, we need to become curious about people outside our social in-group, question and challenge our prejudices, build bridges, discover common ground and even try living in another person’s situation for a period of time to understand things from their perspective.

CONNECTING WITH OTHERS THROUGH EMPATHY

When engaging with others, we can empathetically connect with them as follows:

DEMONSTRATE UNDIVIDED ATTENTION AND INTEREST

  • Give the other people our undivided attention.
  • Show interest by looking directly at the other person, keeping an upright posture and maintaining eye contact.

MAKE A KINDRED CONNECTION

  • Imagine how you would feel in the same situation.
  • Find common ground to connect with the other person: Share a similar experience.

PRACTISE EMPATHETIC LISTENING

  • Often, simply listening to someone could help a great deal. 
  • Listen for feeling words and observe any emotional cues that the other person expresses through body language or voice.
  • Make an empathy statement: For example, “I would feel the same way in that situation…”; “I am sorry that this happened to you…”
  • Avoid criticizing or devaluing the other person’s feelings: For example, “You should not feel like that”; “I did not expect you to feel like that”.

REFLECT WHAT WE HEAR

  • Reflect the other person’s feelings by adjusting our tone, words, body language and action.

May we all strive to practise and perfect the art of empathy, remembering that empathy is…

seeing with the eyes of another.
listening with the ears of another.
feeling with the heart of another.

Source: https://www.draconsultingtt.com/increasing-our-empathy-quotient/ 
Article synthesised from source. 

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