Emotional Intelligence; Post 4

Moving right along in our series about emotional intelligence, today’s post features the fourth component: Empathy.  Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of others; it is about being aware of or being sensitive to another person’s emotions even, at times when it is not being fully communicated. When we have good empathy skills, we can imagine what it would feel like to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes – it is a vicarious experiencing of the feelings.

How do we increase our empathy skills?

  • Listen. Listen to understand and not just to hear. Try to imagine what it would feel like if you were in the same situation they were in – connect with the emotional component in their words.
  • Allow yourself to feel vulnerable to their experience. If we struggle with empathy, it may be because we protect our vulnerability. Attempt to come into the conversation from an open and flexible place.
  • Be curious. Ask questions about their experience. Ask yourself questions about how you may or may not feel differently than they do and why.
  • Notice non-verbal cues. Facial expressions and posture can tell us a lot about emotions and can provide valuable insight as to what others might be feeling.

When we have good empathy skills, we tend to be less judgemental, better at managing relationships, and we relate well to others. It is a valuable component of EI and one that is considered essential to our relationships. Tomorrow’s post will feature the fifth component of emotional intelligence: Social Skills.

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Photo credit: http://Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


4 thoughts on “Emotional Intelligence; Post 4”

  1. Some of the best advice I got in exercising my empathy muscle was that if we pay attention to the feelings arising within ourselves in dealing with someone difficult, perhaps a rambunctious teen, that we may be getting a glimpse of what they are feeling, that is if we are feeling exasperated, frustrated, disrespected, this may be a good indicator of how they are feeling.

    The other related, piece of advice was that in addition to putting ourselves into the shoes of another, we should enter their world, that is, not just putting ourselves in their shoes where we might remain judgemental, but to do so with their skills and abilities, not our own. In keeping with the teen example, we would be called to remember what we were like at that age, ensuring that we are not judging with adult eyes. As I write this I see it’s in keeping with your good advice to remain curious.

    • Thank you Gurlie for your wise words and a lovely addition to the post. Good pieces of advice to keep in mind; I especially like the thought of trying to empathize with someone at their ability level – this often brings to us an objective perspective as to what they are going through.

  2. I am really enjoying the information on emotional intelligence! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom! It is valuable and priceless!
    A little goes a long way!


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