4 Steps To Build The Empathy Muscle – For You, For Me, For Everyone!

Author: Preethi AnanthaNarasimhan

I was once asked by somebody where I study. And I replied with the name of the university (ABC). And his immediate response was

“ABC?? Where on earth is that! I haven’t even heard about it” (chuckles).

What intrigued me was the audacity with which he undermined the university I studied in. Him not having heard about it is as much a sign of his lack of knowledge as it might be of the popularity of my university isn’t it? Well all I did was smile when I thought this.. 🙂

Another incident that happened with a very dear friend of mine. A group some of us who had just met a couple of months back and occasionally hung out were talking as one of them took the liberty to ask my friend “Why don’t you go drinking and clubbing?” And when my friend answered she doesn’t enjoy it much, her immediate comment was, “I have had many friends who were like you but once I made them try it, they love it and they completely enjoy it now, you should open up and explore”

And her argument went on for quite sometime, but you get the gist..

How can people assume they know everything on this planet and wait, assuming is not the end of it, they reflect upon it in their conversations. Where is humility and where is empathy and where is consideration to others?

We All Are Capable Of Empathy.. But How Often Do We Use It?

empathy for people, how to build empathy, being empathetic to people, meaning of empathyI was reading a beautiful article about empathy the other day and it inspired me to share a few of my own thoughts about it. Empathy! We all know we are capable of it, how often do we really use it? For all those times in a day that demands it, we have somehow developed the ability to ignore and not empathise.

It is as if majority of the population consists of self obsessed and self involved people that we are running short of empathy every day. Do we think, for some unknown reason, that we know everything and we’ve seen it all? Or do we all believe we have enough on our own platter to try and imagine other’s troubles and feel for them? Really? Do we really? How can we possibly know if we do not try to empathise?:).

Again, we specifically talk about empathy here, not sympathy cos sympathy is just too easy, it doesn’t take any hard work at all. We came across a beautiful video which talks about Empathy Vs Sympathy and how it makes a huge difference and why it is rated so high. And for something so important, we better build on the empathy muscle.

Here are a few ways we can develop a bit of empathy and be better humans.

Stop judging.

judging people, judging others, judging others quotes, inspirational quotes, judging others definition, judging personalityThis reminds me of a quote: “You Can’t judge people because they sin differently than you do!”. So true isn’t it?

I guess this is something we cannot help. When we meet somebody new, we start developing opinions about the based on what we hear or see them do. Or sometimes without even that. Well, I wouldn’t say stop that, may be we can be a little flexible to change those as we learn more about the?

Lets not generalize people. Everybody is different. Respect that. You never will know what they are doing is coming from. What they mean when they say something. Lets not haste. Lets just be considerate, be kind- for no reason. Even if you turn out wrong, it feels great to have been the kinder one- the bigger one.

Here are 7 simple tips to stop judging people to set ourselves free

Everybody does what they want ultimately. Just like you do. Respect that.

Just because somebody is living life in a certain way, does not mean he/she is not happy. Not everybody finds joy and happiness in the same things that you do. Do not assume somebody is sad just like you cannot assume everybody is happy. It is quite offensive when somebody thinks you’re leading a sad miserable life when you’re actually completely at peace with your life and happy doing what you are.

If it is hard to understand how somebody can be happy doing something that you cannot imagine, may be you should really try hard and imagine.Try to understand that he/she is a different person and he/she loves what he/she does just the way you love doing what you do. Everybody will do things that they want at their own pace when they are ready for it and if they really want it.

Not everyone will want to try the things you find interesting. Lets not impose on others. The best way to let somebody know or even try to inspire somebody to do something is probably genuinely sharing your experience of it without any intentions of motivating somebody to do it, just because you had fun doing it. Like you are living your life, let others too, with pride!

Listen before you speak.

listening ear, listen to what people say, listening in communication, communication skillsA few days ago we wrote our post on 10 tips to speak better and more effectively and our top tip in the list was about listening as we reemphasize that here.

When somebody is sharing something, listen. Be patient. You cannot possible know the ending of everything. Even if you did know the ending of what you were listening, it does not make you any greater than the one talking. Humility is a great quality- often more appreciated than greatness. Lets practice it. To be aware of the fact that ‘I’ an just another human can teach us a lot of consideration.

Before we start advising them about the situation, know that you are not the one actually in the situation and be aware of the impossibilities of your advice. There are these 10 rules of compassion we all must follow and advice is certainly not one of them. Be conscious that you cannot possibly have the solution to everything. It is one thing to be optimistic and be supportive while advising somebody and a completely  different thing to preach and patronize.

And not always do people sharing something seek advice. So lets not be too hasty. May be they just wanted to be understood. Wait to be asked for it before you offer advice. If you cannot help sharing your thoughts on it, be considerate of their feelings and be humble and modest. Suggest, don’t impose.

No matter how insensitive we’ve been in the past, we’ll always know when somebody is being insensitive with us. Lets be kinder, lets empathise before we judge and advice. It makes us better humans. And whats more, we can actually start seeing the world from others’ perspectives -a true path to ‘seeing everything’ isn’t it? lets see the world with some empathy shall we?

Well that’s our take on empathy and a few steps to improve our empathy muscle. Stay tuned in for more.

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7 Responses to "4 Steps To Build The Empathy Muscle – For You, For Me, For Everyone!"

  1. A beautiful post !! Totally loved it. 🙂 Every bit of it. All points are so true and nice to evolve as a nice human being. 🙂

  2. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder · Edit

    Absolutely loved this post…. if we follow at least one of these, life would be much easier and lovelier… 🙂

    1. Thank you Maniparna. All thanks to Preethi for this post. Her posts on social behaviour are adding a real brightness to the site and happy to have her on the team :).

      True indeed, empathy takes only a little bit of sensitivity and understanding that life is a little wider and broader than we have experienced. The humility that thought brings in us can certainly take our social and personal lives to a new high indeed 🙂


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