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.
Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@anniespratt
2 thoughts on “Emotional Intelligence; Post 4”
I listened to the most wonderful description of empathy once in a lecture series done by a psychiatrist from Winnipeg. He pointed out that advice to “put our selves in some else’s shoes” or similar actually did not lead to an empathic understanding. Haven’t we all said something like “Well, I’d just ……” He advised instead “to enter their world” he noted that when we place ourselves in the circumstance of another, we are bringing with us our own skills and abilities and privileges and he rightly pointed out that the road to empathy involved immersing ourselves in the world of another as they experienced it. Curiosity and vulnerability that you recommend in this post are good sign posts, and listening is the road map.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. It is often difficult to describe how to achieve empathy, yet being open to wanting to ‘enter into someone’s world,’ is a great way to think about it. Thanks Gurlie!