Are We Losing The Art Of Empathy?

The importance of treating people with kindness.

Image Credit: Annie Spratt

It concerns me to witness clients, friends, and colleagues unable to fully express their emotions because of the thoughts in their mind.

They are afraid of making the individual feel uncomfortable, being judged and criticised themselves or worse, that they’ll be dismissed or ignored.

In reality they often have nothing to base their fears on. The thoughts live mostly in their head about how they think their loved ones; friends or colleagues will react.

There is no evidence to suggest they have acted that way before, yet for some reason they think they will this time. They may have witnessed the reaction with other people and assume it will be the same for them.

We are living in 2017, advanced in so many ways, yet in the human evolution, people generally feel afraid to express themselves fully because of fear.

Have we really lost the art of empathy where both parties feel discomfort because either don’t know what to say, how to open up and how to react?

We’re all in this human experience together. When did it become the accepted norm to be macho, have the stiff upper lip and carry on regardless?

So where do we start with relearning the art of empathy?

By listening.

Put yourselves in their shoes to try and grasp an understanding of what they’re going through even if your experience or feelings towards the situation may be different. You can can still comfort them, as you would want to be comforted and withhold judgement.

If you don’t know what to say or feel slightly uncomfortable, you can choose to say nothing and offer a supportive knowing look or smile, or a comforting hug.

Sometimes a hug is enough to let the individual know you are there for them and an act that allows them to feel safe, even if for a brief moment.

You don’t always have to fill the void of silence or tears with words.

We need compassion, empathy and good old fashioned human spirit to help, support and nurture our fellow human beings in a very unsettled, changing and confusing world.

What ever happened to the love they neighbour adage?

Treat others as you wish to be treated and you won’t go far wrong in relinquishing the art of empathy.

Originally published at medium.com

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