The Benefits of Being Empathetic

Empathy allows you to connect with others and understand them. Here are nine of its benefits!
The Benefits of Being Empathetic

Last update: 29 November, 2020

Do you think you’re empathetic? Have you ever wondered what the benefits of being empathetic are? In this article, we list nine of the benefits of being empathetic that experts have suggested. Anyway, the big question is, do you think we’re empathetic to make ourselves feel better or to make others feel better?

The benefits listed here relate to the quality of interpersonal relationships, self-esteem, and the ability to help and understand others. Perhaps they’ll encourage you to practice and improve your empathy!

“The greatest gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy, we can all sense a mysterious connection to each other.”

-Meryl Streep-

What’s empathy?

The word empathy comes from the Greek empátheia which means “passion”. Psychology adopted this word from the Greek at the beginning of the 2oth century and expanded upon its original meaning. Today, we know that empathy is one of the most important components of emotional intelligence.

Empathy is your ability to understand someone else’s emotional life: their thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc. It’s always been understood that empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This means that you’re able to better understand another person and feel their emotions.

Two clasped hands.

Nine benefits of being empathetic

Empathy is also related to active listening, emotional support, and understanding. In psychology, it’s considered one of the basic skills psychologists should have. They need it to be able to understand and consequently help their patients. But what other benefits does being empathetic have?

Helps you work on your acceptance skills

Fernando Catalan, psychologist and president of the Deontological Commission of Psychology of the Valencian Community states that the first benefit of being empathetic is that it allows you to work on your acceptance skills. In other words, it helps you to better understand and accept people, making it easier to build social relationships.

“If I’m not empathetic, I rub everyone the wrong way.”

-Fernando Catalan-

Helps you to be more persuasive

Catalan considers this another benefit of being empathetic, although it could be classified as a rather “selfish” benefit. According to Catalan, “If you understand the other person, you can convince them or at least try to convince them of something”. As he says, although persuasion is the most self-serving part of empathy, it doesn’t stop it from being a fundamental part all the same.

Boosts your self-esteem

Psychologist Carmen Solivares believes that being empathetic also reinforces your self-esteem. She explains that “Those who demonstrate empathy are collaboratively oriented and more successful in their reference groups, which boosts their self-esteem”.

Improves your relationships with others

Psychologist and physiotherapist Laura Cano considers that this is one of the benefits of being empathetic. When you understand others, it’s easier for you to build a trusting relationship with them. Indeed, we all tend to gravitate towards the people we feel most comfortable with.

Helps you help others

Empathy, along with the other emotional intelligence tools, helps you to help others with their problems or suffering. By empathizing, you start actively listening and connecting with others. Thus, they feel better and less alone.

“Seek first to understand then to be understood.”

-Stephen Covey-

Helps you establish closer relationships

Putting yourself in another’s shoes helps you connect better to that person. And this helps you form closer relationships. In other words, you aren’t just being with the person but you’re trying to understand them in a much deeper way. This, therefore, promotes close and not superficial relationships.

“Most people would rather give than get affection.”

-Aristotle-

Helps if you have to give bad news

Nobody likes having to give bad news. In fact, this action has been linked to a phenomenon called the MUM effect. The MUM effect occurs when you have to give some bad news but you’re reluctant to do so. Thus, you might distort the message in some way. This is because you’re afraid of being linked with the bad news yourself and, also, that the message recipient might subconsciously consider you a “bad” person. Luckily, learning to communicate bad news is another benefit of being empathetic. Empathy can help you do it in a “better” way, at least certainly in a more tactful way.

Helps you be even more empathetic

Another benefit is that, by being empathetic, you’re developing your ability to be even more so. Because although empathy is an intrinsic quality, you can still develop and improve it. Thus, by being empathetic, you’re further developing this particular skill.

Helps you get to know people better

As you’ve seen, empathy helps you to connect with others. This, in turn, allows you to get to know others more, as they’ll open up to you and will be more likely to show their inner selves. Furthermore, knowing people and connecting with them enriches you as a person.

A couple hugging, showing the benefits of empathy.

Neuroscience and empathy

Have you heard of mirror neurons? Well, they’re the neurons responsible for empathy. Giacomo Rizzolatti, an Italian neurobiologist, discovered them in 1996 while experimenting with macaque monkeys.

Rizzolatti observed how these neurons activated when the monkeys saw certain expressions and movements in other monkeys. Sometime later, these neurons were discovered in humans as well, in the lower frontal cerebral cortex of the brain. This particular area is our language center.

“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person within yourself.”

-Mohsin Hamid-

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  • Hogg, M.A. (2010). Psicología social. Vaughan Graham M. Panamericana. Editorial: Panamericana.
  • Tesser, A., & Rosen, S. (1975). The reluctance to transmit bad news. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.). Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol. 8, pp. 194-232. New York: Academic Press.