Empathy: Putting Yourself in Someone Else's Shoes

Empathy: Putting Yourself in Someone Else's Shoes

Last update: 29 August, 2016

We have heard people talk about this term more than once: empathy. What is it? Empathy is the ability to perceive and interpret what another person is feeling or maybe even thinking. That is to say, it’s a way of understanding and comprehending what another person is feeling. It means to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Well-developed empathy implies not only understanding what the other person is feeling, but also anticipating their response to such feelings.

Maybe stating it this way makes it sound like empathy is metaphysical or some kind of divine skill. But the truth is that many of us at one point or another of our lives develop empathy, to a lesser or greater degree. It would be good to develop and promote it to its maximum potential, because it will make us stronger people and will strengthen our relationships.

So, how can you be more empathetic? The ability to empathize with others depends directly on your ability to identify your own feelings. To dominate empathy, you need to be aware of yourself. You need to not be prejudice, and have the ability to listen to and observe the other person attentively.

Empathy is not about understanding the other person for our own benefit. Instead, it’s about understanding them for their benefit. Attention is a crucial part of being empathetic. If, when you are talking to someone, you are thinking about other things, your own problems or about what you’re going to say when the other person stops talking, you will never really find out what the other person is actually feeling.

We as people don’t always express what we are feeling in words. We could be saying one thing but feeling another. Or we could be saying nothing at all and be feeling something very complex. Someone with empathy is capable of seeing through the words and gestures and understands what’s hiding beyond them.

It’s normal in this day and age for us to be a bit more selfish without even realizing it. We are constantly worried solely about our own problems, and think only about ourselves, but that implies taking a path that leads directly away from empathy. Empathy moves us to feel others’ pain, to recover our interest in the people around us and to consolidate the relationship we have with each one of these people. It gets easier as we get to know these people, since the relationship frequently lets us discover the motives behind their bad moods, joys, and sadness. It also lets us understand their way of behaving due to their current state of mind.

Empathy is a great trait to have and we should value it as such. When someone empathizes with us, we must know how to appreciate it. And when someone needs empathy from us, you have to develop this marvelous skill to its fullest potential in order to help this other person out, which always brings about a great sense of satisfaction.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.