In the last decade, there have been so many discoveries about and changes in the way we view the inner workings of the mind. With research to back it up, there has been a collective shift towards the belief that humans have the capability to develop virtues and core values such as honesty, compassion, generosity, and so on. These are all traits that highly empathic people share and exercise on a daily basis. The human race has the ability to lead with nobility in every aspect of their lives.
You might be asking, how is that possible? Isn’t a predominant belief that human nature is inherently selfish? Not so, if you follow the 6 Habits of Highly Empathic People as outlined by Roman Krznaric.
We all have the ability to master our brains as science has discovered. Striving to build cultures of empathy at work and beyond are attainable.
Empathy has the power to impact your personal life for the better as well as your career, business, productivity and so much more. According to author Maria Ross in cultivating empathy: “When you encourage empathy among your workforce and parlay that mindset outward to customers, your company will thrive. Why? Because empathetic businesses better understand their customers and can anticipate their wants and needs - delivering solutions to the market that customers crave."
Concluding our series on the 6 Habits of Highly Empathic People by Roman Krznaric, we delve into these last two habits:
We typically assume empathy happens at the level of individuals, but Highly Empathic People understand that empathy can also be a mass phenomenon that brings about fundamental social change.
Beyond education, the big challenge is figuring out how social networking technology can harness the power of empathy to create mass political action. Twitter may have gotten people onto the streets for Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, but can it convince us to care deeply about the suffering of distant strangers, whether they are drought-stricken farmers in Africa or future generations who will bear the brunt of our carbon-junkie lifestyles? This will only happen if social networks learn to spread not just information, but empathic connection.
A final trait of Highly Empathic People is that they do far more than empathize with the usual suspects. We tend to believe empathy should be reserved for those living on the social margins or who are suffering. This is necessary, but it is hardly enough. We also need to empathize with people whose beliefs we don’t share or who may be “enemies” in some way.
Empathizing with adversaries is also a route to social tolerance. That was Gandhi’s thinking during the conflicts between Muslims and Hindus leading up to Indian independence in 1947, when he declared, “I am a Muslim! And a Hindu, and a Christian and a Jew.”
The 20th century was the Age of Introspection, when self-help and therapy culture encouraged us to believe that the best way to understand who we are and how to live was to look inside ourselves. But it left us gazing at our own navels. The 21st century should become the Age of Empathy when we discover ourselves not simply through self-reflection, but by becoming interested in the lives of others. We need empathy to create a new kind of revolution. Not an old-fashioned revolution built on new laws, institutions, or policies, but a radical revolution in human relationships.
So, with that, we urge you to apply these principles when you are approached by a coworker, friend, family member, loved one, client, or any other person you might come into contact with, and they ask you that they want to engage in a conversation. How can you elevate it to meaningful conversations where you are practicing empathy? Nowadays, we are encountering a myriad of opportunities in mainstream life that would only provide you ample ways to practice empathy.
Perfection is not the aim here, it is just about being aware and mindfully giving empathy an intentional effort. This can only lend itself to your being a gem of inestimable value in cultivating and improving the quality of interpersonal relationships whether at the office, in your home or at any stage in your life that you find yourself in.
Research shows our brains possess neuroplasticity, or the ability to change and adapt, through training and conscious practices, we can develop more empathy. Think of it like going to the gym - the more you practice using your muscles, the stronger you become.
After you finish reading this post, try these exercises to build your empathy muscle!
Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence. 10th Edition. 1995. Bantam Books.
6 Habits of Highly Empathic People, Roman Krznaric.
How Empathy Works, Melanie Radzicki McManus
5 Everyday Exercises for Building Empathy, Knowledge.insead.edu.
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Mariam is a freelance writer offering support for businesses & entrepreneurs locally and globally. She brings a significant amount of experience in the corporate marketing industry and as a freelancer in content management, internet research, blogging, article writing, copy editing, and proofreading.
Her mission is to empower business owners to produce content that clearly and authentically communicates with their target audiences, ultimately making lives less stressful as well as allowing for more free time to live more well-balanced and healthier lives.