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Empathy: Perhaps the most important quality of our time

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Empathy: Perhaps the most important quality of our time

Why might empathy be perhaps the most important quality of our time? In a world marked by profound changes, the following are Support and orientation two important resources. This support and orientation are provided by values and qualities that should actually be self-evident. Empathy is one of them.

The ability to empathize with others should be desirable for everyone. But instead of understanding and compassion, we too often encounter comfort and selfishness. Why empathy is perhaps the most important quality of our time and how you can become (even) more empathetic, you will learn in this article.

What is empathy?

"Participation is the golden key that opens the hearts of others."

Samuel Smiles

In order to understand how important empathy is, one should be aware that there are situations in our lives every day that require sensitivity. For example, the colleague who couldn't perform to her full potential today and had to take a nasty comment for it. Or the partner who wishes you would listen to him more attentively. Instead, you turn up the TV. After all, it's quitting time and you've earned your rest. In such situations, some people don't care at all how the other person is doing. Yet a little more compassion would do our society an incredible amount of good.

Just imagine if the colleagues had behaved a little more tolerantly. Maybe they would have motivated their colleague in such a way that she would have been at her best. Or maybe they would have been a little more empathetic towards their partner. Wouldn't that make everyone involved feel better? Empathy means taking responsibility and being sensitive to other people's feelings. Those who have empathic abilities can see the world through another's eyes. He feels sympathy and compassion.

Responsible for this are our Mirror neurons. If they are "coded" with experiences, then we can interpret the actions of others. But a prerequisite for this is that we perceive ourselves. Only then can we recognize connections and respond to other people. The better we understand ourselves, the easier it is for us to communicate with others. strengths and weaknesses ...to deal with it. And the more life and self-experience we gather, the more we train our Empathy.

Sensitivity and the ability to empathize are the basis of any togetherness. Whether in a love relationship, your family, to work colleagues or to strangers. In politics as well as in business and in all other areas of life: empathy is a social intelligence, without which no Relationship can work.

The advantages and disadvantages of empathy

Empathy has advantages but also disadvantages for humans. In the following, we would therefore like to give you 10 advantages and disadvantages on the topic of empathy and at the same time deal with corresponding examples.

10 advantages of empathy

  • Questioning feelingsn
    Empathic people are very self-reflective. They get to the bottom of their feelings and thus have a better understanding of their inner state.
  • Large social environment
    People who have a lot of empathy have a large social environment, many friends and people who support them in all areas of life.
  • Long-lasting relationships
    High empathy also contributes to the formation of friendships and other relationships that last for a long time. Time stop.
  • Acting encouragingly
    If you have a high level of empathy, you can motivate your fellow human beings (privately & professionally) to develop their full potential.
  • Are solution oriented
    People who have a high level of empathy are usually less self-centered. Instead, people with high empathy are concerned about solutions and the common good.
  • Are popular
    People with high empathy are popular because they feel a friendly aura. Around them, other people feel comfortable at all times.
  • Resolve conflicts
    Those who have empathy are able to solve conflicts and act as mediators. And this both in private everyday life and at work.
  • Self-reflection
    Empathic people also deal with themselves a lot. They reflect on their thoughts and feelings and derive new insights from them.
  • Understanding people
    Those with a high level of empathy can read between the lines and thus better interpret gestures, facial expressions and tonality in conversations.
  • Low stress level
    Due to their nature, people with high empathy ensure a low stress level. In other words, they are usually much happier in everyday life.

10 disadvantages of empathy

  • Empathy robs power
    If you keep putting yourself in the emotional state of the person you're talking to, it's going to get to you and can cause you to become drained.
  • Empathy Strains Relationships
    Those who always take in the feelings of others often project these onto their partner. This can then often lead to quarrels.
  • Empathy easily tips over into pity
    Overly empathetic people often have too much pity and accept everything. Occasionally even evil things that do not deserve pity.
  • Empathy hinders women
    Women are known to have more empathy than men. In the professional world, this is not necessarily an advantage. There it is also important to assert one's own opinion.
  • Empathy limits
    Too much empathy often leads to putting one's own interests second. In the long run, this approach makes you noticeably unhappy.
  • Empathy is unfairly distributed
    We often only show empathy to people who are similar to us. If our counterpart differs (e.g. by origin) we tend to keep our distance.
  • Empathy affirms injustice
    If we see only the good in everything, we also promote injustice. And this is especially true of people who deliberately gain an advantage at the expense of others.
  • Empathy is unfair
    We often feel pity for people who have had something bad happen to them. However, only if we have not had this blow of fate ourselves.
  • Empathy is overrated
    Empathy is of course an important factor in interpersonal communication. However, factors such as intelligence or strong communication skills also have a strong effect.
  • Empathy can be manipulated
    People with sharp minds can manipulate empathic people to take advantage of them.

The 4 pillars of empathy

What are the characteristics of a high level of empathy? What factors can people with high empathy use to determine how the other person feels? Basically, there are 4 pillars according to which empathic people evaluate the condition of their counterpart.

1. perception

People with a high level of empathy can infer the state of their counterpart from their body language (e.g. bowed), voice (e.g. shaky) or choice of words (e.g. negative).

2. understanding

In addition, empathic people try to shed more light on the motives for the emotional state of the other person.

3. resonance

In addition, a feeling of acceptance should ultimately be conveyed to the other person so that he or she can regain emotional composure in bad times.

4. anticipation

Furthermore, the emathic person thinks strongly about how the respective interlocutor will behave in the future based on his emotional state.

What are the different types of empathy?

In psychology, a distinction is made between 3 types of empathy: emotional, cognitive & social empathy. How exactly these 3 forms differ I would like to tell you in the following.

Emotional empathy
Emotional empathy refers to "feeling with" and "reacting" to the emotional state of the other person. In doing so, the feelings of the other person are often transferred to one's own mood. Emotional empathy is especially important for interpersonal relationships.

Cognitive empathy
Cognitive empathy helps us to understand the feelings of our counterpart. Those who have a strong cognitive empathy can perceive nonverbal and paraverbal expressions well and deduce the emotional state of the other person on the basis of these.

Social empathy
Social empathy helps us relate to different character types. People who have a high level of social empathy get along with different personality types pretty good.

Can compassion be learned?

Yes, it can be trained like a muscle. And the formula is actually quite simple. It is: less ego, less self-interest, less calculation and instead all the more humanity!

The easiest way to train compassion is to show honest interest in other people. Learn to put your own interests and goals on the back burner a little. Ask others what their wants and needs are. Take time to listen to others and put yourself in their world. Try to leave your own judgement or opinion out of it. It does not count in these moments. After all, you want to understand what is going on in your counterpart's mind. The more often you practice this procedure, the more empathetic you can become.

Learning empathy: 7 valuable tips for everyday life

Empathy can be learned! In order for you to succeed, we would like to share 7 tips with you in the following, with which you can learn to train your empathy, so that you can better respond to your fellow human beings in private and professional everyday life.

Listen actively

How often do the words of the person you're talking to go in one ear and out the other? It probably happens now and then. That's why you should concentrate on the person you're talking to. This way you learn to read the lines in between and that helps you to understand your counterpart better.

Observation

As you have already learned in this article, based on the Body language The emotional state of the other person can be interpreted. And that's why it's especially important that you pay attention to the body language of your counterpart in the conversation. Gestures, facial expressions and posture are particularly important here.

show interest

A conversation is not a one-way street. That's why it's important that you ask questions that get the other person to open up. It is also important that your interest is genuine and not fake. Your counterpart would notice the latter on a subconscious level. And of course, that would not be an advantage for your relationship.

Be sensitive

As soon as the other person starts to open up, it is important that you respond to his feelings and offer him comfort. He is likely to open his heart to you and share thoughts and feelings that make him vulnerable. Your task is therefore to make your counterpart feel safe so that he feels comfortable around you.

Take your time

It does not happen overnight that a person opens up to you fully. It takes time and trust. You create trust by giving a person your time. And therefore: If you want a person to open up to you, then also bring enough time so that the necessary basis of trust can develop.

Have no prejudices

Prejudices often contribute to the fact that we close ourselves off and thus leave no room for a free interaction with our counterpart. For this reason, it is extremely important that we throw our prejudices overboard. Because only in this way can we face our counterpart without bias and only then do we succeed in getting to know them better.

Gain experience

We usually surround ourselves exclusively with people who are like us. That's a shame, because in this way we limit our own horizons. And therefore the final tip: Surround yourself with different people. You're guaranteed to learn a lot from them and thus also be able to develop a new level of empathy.

How children learn compassion

Parents are the most important reference person for children in all areas of life. Of course, this also applies to empathy. This means that warm, cordial and open contact with the offspring helps them to develop empathy over the years.

Because ultimately children learn through imitation. If the parents always remain at a distance, do not take the time and do not show compassion, then the child will adopt these qualities and become the mirror image of the parents.

Therefore, it is important as a parent to talk with his child about feelings, to ask this about his own feelings and to give comfort. Especially children are very sensitive and need twice as much warmth and love.

In addition, an inductive style of education is also important. This means that the child is taught the ability to analyze his actions and anticipate what they can cause in the worst case.

For example: "If you tease your sister in the only, it will make her very sad." It would be better to give the child tips on how to behave lovingly and empathetically towards his fellow human beings.

If you're struggling with parenting challenges, by the way, a Children's Coach with pleasure. Such a coach specializes in helping people so that the children can develop freely.

Beware of ecpathy - What you should watch out for

Being ecpathetic means not getting emotionally involved with your counterpart. This is good up to a certain point. After all, you want to avoid the negative feelings of a counterpart to pass on to you.

On the other hand, there is the danger of closing oneself off emotionally and thus losing access to other people. In this context, it is important to learn to differentiate in different situations.

At work, for example, ecpathetic behavior protects against toxic colleagues. In the private environment, however, it leads to the fact that friends, family or the life partner possibly gets at a distance and this of course damages the relationship.

Conclusion: Empathy gets you further in life

Empathy alone does not move mountains. Aber it is the first important step towards a tolerant, colourful coexistence. The good news is that there are various studies. Laut which was none of the last generations was as tolerant and committed to equality as the present one.

So we are on a good path. Everyone gets to start small. Its Self-awareness Strengthen. Focus more on the needs and feelings of others in private and professional life. Then a unique, stirring movement could soon emerge from this! Because compassion is a raw material that the world needs more urgently than oil, coal and silicon combined.   

What do you think? What about your empathy? Have you already thought about what kind of personality type you are? If not, we now have a great tip for you. Just take the Greator personality test (takes less than 3 minutes) and find out what kind of personality type you are. Here you can take the test for free.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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