Being empathetic is extremely difficult these days. Some people treat it as a weakness. Others think that the person who is being kind towards his fellow beings is just acting up. It’s as if all of us have collectively decided that nobody can genuinely care about others in today’s cutthroat world.
However, if research is to be believed, there are innumerable reasons why we should buck the norm and try to be empathetic. People who care about others not only improve the quality of their own lives, but also experience lower levels of stress and are less likely to suffer a burn-out.
Want to garner all these benefits? Then you might want to act on these tips:
#1: Talk to strangers
You don’t need to initiate conversations with people walking on the road to act on this tip. Talk to your colleague you have never talked before as you take that short walk from where you sit to where the hand sanitizer dispenser is placed on your office’s entrance. Invite that new neighbor for a tea who has just rented the house next to yours.
Provided you do that, you’d not only learn about new things, but you’d also learn about them from people who may have a different perspective to yours. That would teach you that there isn’t one way – yours! – to look at the world. This realization can have a stunning effect on how you interact with people who hold a different viewpoint to yours in everyday life.
#2: Become a volunteer
When you work with other people towards a shared goal, it lets you join your forces with them. Your humanity and expertise are added to theirs. In contrast, the differences that may exist between them and yourself are minimized because both of you are working for the same cause.
There are many ways you can become a volunteer. You can work on a community garden, join the committee of your worship place (if you visit any), or become a part of any group whose members have the same favorite pastime as you. Anything that would let you become a part of a wider group and help you associate with like-minded people will make you feel more empathetic.
#3: Stand up for others
All of us are privileged in one way or another. It’s time we acknowledge that privilege and use it to help others who don’t have it. You shouldn’t be a loudmouth, but you should speak up when you feel someone is aiming a discriminatory comment against someone else in your presence.
For instance, if someone is repeatedly interrupting your coworker as she tries to make her viewpoint clear, you could say: “Can we please let her complete what she wants to say before we move on.” This behavior of yours will not only help the person you’re trying to help, but it will also make you feel good for standing up for someone.
#4: Do more listening and less talking
If you think you aren’t able to gel with a person, do this: step back for a moment, let them speak, and then try to make up your mind as to what they really want to say. If possible, take a walk towards any nearby item like a Purell hand sanitizer dispenser to let your mind decipher other person’s viewpoint.
What good would this approach of stepping back do? First, it would let your anger subside. Second, and this reason stems from the first, you’d be able to see things better from the other person’s perspective. That would help you gauge whether there is truth to their thinking or not. As a result, you’d be less likely to snap back at them.