RCCS Tidbit Of The Month: Empathy

Feeling “with” empathy is an awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. Empathy is understanding what others are experiencing as if we were feeling it ourselves. Empathy nurtures kind and helpful acts towards others, like cooperating, donating, and sharing.

Empathy is different than sympathy and compassion. Empathy connects people and strengthens relationships. Sympathy can place distance between people. Sympathy might be considered feeling “for” someone. Empathy is feeling “with” someone. Empathy requires us to take the perspective of another person; be non-judgmental; recognize another’s emotions and be vulnerable and share our experiences or feelings. Empathetic people report being happier, having good friends, and excelling at work. Clients being served by empathetic healthcare workers, report feeling less depressed and more hopeful. Employees with empathetic supervisors report being less stressed and more engaged.

Some people think that empathy is a trait that you are either born with or not — or that women have more empathy than men. But research is showing that everyone can develop the skills of empathy. We can grow our empathy skills.

  • Understanding Others – Slow down: Listen with curiosity and mindfulness. Try to be fully present and free from distractions. Ask questions to help you grasp your understanding instead of immediately offering advice.

  • Develop Others: Reward and praise people for their strengths and accomplishments. Provide constructive feedback designed to focus on how to improve.

  • Have a Service Orientation: Try putting the needs of others first and look for ways to improve their satisfaction. Go the “extra mile” for others.

  • Leverage Diversity: Create and develop opportunities through and with different kinds of people with different perspectives.

  • Send Less Emails: Instead, pick up the phone or walk down the hall and have the conversation face-to-face. We build better connections and understand each other more deeply when we talk directly.

More Learning:

With others, watch the video from Brené Brown on Empathy and have a discussion after.

  1. What stood out for you?

  2. What did you learn?

  3. Did you relate or connect with any part of the video?

  4. Recall a time when you used your empathy skills and another when you struggled?