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Empathy: trait of human kindness

Empathy: trait of human kindness

“The highest form of knowledge… is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self-kind of understanding.”  – Bill Bullard

After reading the above it is crucial to include the guidance of empathy and the continuous improving of it in every personal development curriculum.

What is a definition or meaning of empathy?

Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional states. Wikipedia

Importance of empathy

Empathy, the most important human attribute that matters in every aspect of life, is particularly essential in health care. (Anna Ratka Empathy and the Development of Affective Skills) Empathy is important because it helps us understand how others are feeling so we can respond appropriately to the situation. The

Signs of Empathy

The signs that show that you tend to be an empathetic person are the following:
You are good at really listening to what others have to say.
People often tell you about their problems.
You are good at picking up on how other people are feeling.
You often think about how other people feel.
Other people come to you for advice.
Often feel overwhelmed by tragic events.
Try to help others who are suffering.
Good at telling when people aren’t being honest.
Sometimes feel drained or overwhelmed in social situations.
You care deeply about other people.
You find it difficult to set boundaries in your relationships with other people. Kendra Cherry

Types of empathy

Affective empathy involves the ability to understand another person’s emotions and respond appropriately. Such emotional understanding may lead to someone feeling concerned for another person’s well-being, or it may lead to feelings of personal distress.

Somatic empathy involves having a sort of physical reaction in response to what someone else is experiencing. People sometimes physically experience what another person is feeling. When you see someone else feeling embarrassed, for example, you might start to blush or have an upset stomach.

Cognitive empathy involves being able to understand another person’s mental state and what they might be thinking in response to the situation. This is related to what psychologists refer to as theory of mind or thinking about what other people are thinking.

Source: Kendra Cherry verywellmind

Why does the health care field and business demonstrate empathy towards patients and employees?

HEALTH CARE PATIENTS: Expressing empathy is highly effective and powerful, which builds patient trust, calms anxiety, and improves health outcomes. Research has shown empathy and compassion to be associated with better adherence to medications, decreased malpractice cases, fewer mistakes, and increased patient satisfaction.

BUSINESS EMPLOYEES: To many people, the most important business skill is not project management or multitasking, but empathy. it is increasingly making it to the top of the lists of “soft skills” that managers and leaders need. “Empathy should be embedded into the entire organization,” writes Belinda Parmar in the Harvard Business Review. “There is nothing soft about it. It is a hard skill that should be required from the board-room to the shop floor.” Source: Laserfiche

The video, Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care, has become a viral sensation, with 4,437,714 views on YouTube. (5 min) Source: MedicalGPS

Read also this article by Jean Decety & Aikaterini Fotopoulou: Why empathy has a beneficial impact on others in medicine: unifying theories

All spheres of life need empathy

YOUR NEEDS: In self-empathy, you love and accept yourself, but not because of your strengths. Admit where you’ve been wounded and how you’ve hurt others. You embrace the hard truth that you have failed and lost. Compassion for yourself is not only essential for a healthy personal life, but it’s also the secret to a successful counselling practice. Unless you face your brokenness, you remain powerless to help others do the same. Source: Don Welch Point Loma

The universe needs empathy and it affects:

  • Health Benefits. By empathizing with others and the close bonds we form with others help us develop healthy coping mechanisms towards stress. Empathetic or compassionate people are often in better shape and have a stronger immune system, which leads to not only a happier but a healthier life.
  • Communication Skills. Because empathy involves picturing how another person thinks or feels, learning how to have it can significantly strengthen your communication skills. Empathy can limit misunderstandings because we will be able to better gage what someone means when they say or write something.
  • Work Benefits. Supervisors treat their workers with more compassion and lower-level employees respect their bosses–and all employees work harder towards their company mission. Empathy makes the office a happier place to be, where each person works not because they have to but because they want to.
  • Prosocial Behaviour. We as human beings are all wired to need close, meaningful relationships. Anything that helps us form these bonds, benefits others and ourselves. The more you deliberately try to be empathetic towards others, the larger your capacity for empathy will grow over time.
  • Decreases Negativity in World. So often when we read the news, we’re overwhelmed by the calamities of the world. All this pain is a burden too large for any one person to bear but showing compassion for others can help replace the bad things in the world with good things over time.

Source: Andy Winder

Your empathetic behaviour can be improved!

Here are eight ways to strengthen your own empathy:

1. Challenge yourself. Undertake challenging experiences which push you outside your comfort zone. Learn a new skill, for example, such as a musical instrument, hobby, or foreign language. Develop a new professional competency. Doing things like this will humble you, and humility is a key enabler of empathy.

2. Get out of your usual environment. Travel, especially to new places and cultures. It gives you a better appreciation for others.

3. Get feedback. Ask for feedback about your relationship skills (e.g., listening) from family, friends, and colleagues—and then check in with them periodically to see how you’re doing.

4. Explore the heart not just the head. Read literature that explores personal relationships and emotions. This has been shown to improve the empathy of young doctors.

5. Walk in others’ shoes. Talk to others about what it is like to walk in their shoes—about their issues and concerns and how they perceived experiences you both shared.

6. Examine your biases. We all have hidden (and sometimes not-so-hidden) biases that interfere with our ability to listen and empathize. These are often centered around visible factors such as age, race, and gender. Don’t think you have any biases? Think again—we all do.

7. Cultivate your sense of curiosity. What can you learn from a very young colleague who is “inexperienced?” What can you learn from a client you view as “narrow”? Curious people ask lots of questions (point 8), leading them to develop a stronger understanding of the people around them.

8. Ask better questions. Bring three or four thoughtful, even provocative questions to every conversation you have with clients or colleagues.

Source: Andrew Sobel Eight ways to improve your empathy   

Emotional Empathy Is A Leader’s Greatest Strength

By tapping into the underlying feelings that drive your team forward, you can bring out everyone’s best side and increase overall performance. Heidi Zak Read the full article…

Danger of empathy

Having a great deal of empathy makes you concerned for the well-being and happiness of others. It also means, however, that you can sometimes get overwhelmed, burned out, or even overstimulated from always thinking about other people’s emotions. Kendra Cherry verywellmind


Empathy helps people develop affective skills, behaviours, attitudes and acquire competencies essential for people-centred care. Educators and coaches in health, business, management, sport and professional programs should recognize that many affective skills are rooted in empathy. Anna Ratka Empathy and the Development of Affective Skills  


“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.” Maya Angelou

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” Mohsin Hamid

“We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yet listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change that I know.” Carl Rogers

“One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient.” Charles M. Blow

Empathy is simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of you’re not alone.” Brene Brown

Empathy: trait of human kindness

“The death of human empathy is one of the earliest and most telling signs of a culture about to fall into barbarism.” Hannah Arendt

“Stay connected to feel empathy, compassion, and understanding for yourself and others.” Vanessa Tucker

Empathy is a skill like any other human skill. If you get a chance to practice, you can get better at it.” Professor Simon Baron Cohen

“Compassion, empathy, and love are the real pillars we need to build within ourselves to become human.” Loknath

“I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization.” Roger Ebert

“The functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion, and empathy.” Dean Koontz

“Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.” Oprah Winfrey