Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Importance of Empathy

2015 is a year for empathy. It’s a time to sit back and listen to the people around you. Take in what they’re saying. Understand the undercurrents behind their words. That way you can hear their needs. Empathy leads to win-win situations. 

To do this, start from a calm foundation. A peaceful state quiets the noise in your head so that you can tune in. Clarity allows you to sense what they are communicating with intonation, body language, and even energy. 

Breathing is one of the best ways to create the ideal state. Focusing on breath we ground ourselves and open our senses. If you feel calm and expansive you got it right.

Always breathe from your belly. Pay attention to your breathing. Make sure it is as low in your body as possible.  Once you’e moved your breath down, deepen it by filling your lungs. Then slow it down as much as possible. Make the out breaths longer than the inhales  to add to the calming effect. It can be a very subtle way to become more empathetic.

Empathy can be particularly challenging in group settings. When lots of people are trying to get their point across, speak last. Practice your breathing. Listen to every person as they speak. Sit, attentive, interested, with an open mind. You’ll get clear on what’s really going on with the group.

When your turn comes, take your time. Allow everything that you’ve learned  help you to figure out what to say. Communicate your needs, or opinion, in a way that aligns with the best interest of the whole group. You’ll get amazing results. 

It can be tough to have empathy. During heated debates, it might seem almost impossible. In family discussions it can be tricky because everyone is pushing each other’s buttons. Do the best you can. The smallest step in the right direction will help everyone. 

Have you had positive experiences using empathy and active listening? I’d love to hear about them.

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