Photo - CC Commons by GNOME icon Artists
CAIRO – 6 November 2017: Empathy is the key element to having emotional intelligence. It is being aware of the feelings and emotions of other people. It is the link between one’s self and others ‒ how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing as if we are feeling it ourselves.
According to researcher Paul Parkin (teacher, speaker and researcher who focuses on relational communication), empathy is something that we are born with. In the last 20 years, neuroscientists have discovered that each of us is born with something called "mirror neurons", which actually program us to care about other people’s experiences. Cultivating that side of ourselves increases our capacity for connection, while diminishing it leads to disconnection, isolation, loneliness, or even unethical or abusive behavior.
Three ways to improve any relationship with empathy
1. Giving empathy:
The process of being in someone else’s shoes, trying to feel and understand what they are feeling, happens through communication. Being empathetic means no assumptions and no judging, only validation and compassion. When we communicate with empathy, we change and our perspective of others changes. We become kinder, more forgiving, more loving and more accepting. And when we change, we invite change into the relationship, creating healthy patterns of communication and a whole new level of connection and relating.
2. Receiving empathy:
Unfortunately, we live in a world of perfectionism and fakeness, which makes it hard on many people to accept receiving empathy. It is looked upon as weakness or shame, when in reality, receiving empathy is just as transformational as giving it, if not more. There are lots of reasons why we need to receive empathy. The most important is to understand that it is OK to be imperfect. “Empathy is one of the primary ways to reduce perfectionism in our society.” - Brene Brown
3. Co-creating empathy:
Studies show that the happiest people are those who have meaningful connections in their lives. Empathy is at its most when communicating in a two-way track. When the parties involved in any given situation are aware of each other’s needs and constantly try to meet those needs in healthy ways by finding win-win situations, the outcome is nothing less than amazing success.
Paul Parkin describes empathy like a pair of glasses that partners/associates should wear all the time to shape the way they communicate in order to connect at the deepest level.
Empathy enables people to navigate complexities and to build and sustain a more peaceful world. Empathy is critical for success not only in personal relationships, but also in all types of professions. We can change the world if we start creating a culture of empathy that is transformational, where people will not only learn to give or receive, but will learn how to contribute.