Empathy is in the Eye of the Beholder

Shared experiences and clarifying questions are two aspects that demonstrate the empathy within a Forum meeting. CFBC members say that joining a Forum improved their Emotional Intelligence, empathetic nature and bettered all aspects of their lives.

But can empathy really be taught or developed as an adult?

A recent article from BBC explored just that and found that neuroscience research has reported “98% of people (the exceptions include those with psychopathic tendencies) have the ability to empathize wired into their brains - an in-built capacity for stepping into the shoes of others and understanding their feelings and perspectives.”

If you aren’t sure if you are empathetic – or not sure how empathetic you are – there is an online test called the 'Reading the Eyes in the Mind' test in which you are asked what the emotions of individuals are just based from looking at a photo of their eyes. Try it out and see how you score. If you score a 26 or higher, you are most likely very empathetic. Reading emotions and relating to others comes naturally to you.

And if you didn’t score very well, there are steps you can take to increase your empathy. The BBC recommends the following tips: listen, ‘look for the human behind everything’, and explore an interest in people you do not know.

We agree that listening plays a huge roll in empathy. Some of us are so used to talking that turning the tables and actively listening to what another person is saying can be challenging. But when done, it is eye-opening and the best way to walk in someone else’s shoes.

You can also share your experiences rather than giving advice. Advice can sometimes demonstrate your ego and can be abrasive. By sharing with someone your own experience, you become an equal and allow yourself to be more open to his or her perspective.

Clarifying questions are another way to express empathy. If you are finding you can’t relate or you’re struggling to understand someone, continue to ask questions to gain a deeper meaning of their words and experiences.

If we all were a little more empathetic, think about how much better our world could be!

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