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September 4, 2020

Being More Empathetic

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One of the most important, but most difficult traits we can possess is empathy. Empathy is an ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes, observe the context around their mental processes, and understand why they believe things to be a certain way or feel a certain way. This characteristic serves us in a number of different ways - Emotionally supporting a friend or loved on, attempting to motivate someone, trying to do business with someone, or trying to understand how someone has different political beliefs. 

But the flaw with empathy is that it is largely based on assumptions and when you assume, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation, subjectivity, and opinion. So if you want to be more effective, you need to remove the judgment and biases you're feeling and try to approach the situation at face-value. 

If you want to emotionally support a friend, ask more targeted questions to understand the context of the problem, so that you can address the root of the emotion and not about the superficial display of that emotion. If you want to motivate someone, think about their goals and objectives and how you can position what you want them to do as a means of achieving it. If you want to do business with someone, think about the stakeholders and pressures they must respond to and how this would make them look in the eyes of a boss or superior. 

Your ability to be empathetic is strengthened by your ability to remove yourself from someone’s situation, which requires radical open-mindedness and zero judgment. Empathy is a fundamental trait that, when exercised right, will allow you to be more effective in your interactions with others.

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