Table of contents:
- When talking about the development of empathy, it is important not to forget that there are different types of empathy and each of these types must be developed in its own way. Here are some simple guidelines
- In developing empathy, it is important to adhere to the "golden mean". If empathy is not developed, the person will have a reputation for being "insensitive" and he will most likely have problems in building close relationships (friendships, loving ones). Insufficiently developed empathy can also harm a career, especially in professions of the "person-to-person" type (managers, salespeople, doctors, teachers, psychologists)
Video: Empathy: Develop But Limit! - Self-development
When talking about the development of empathy, it is important not to forget that there are different types of empathy and each of these types must be developed in its own way. Here are some simple guidelines
For developing emotional empathy, techniques from acting training, such as copying and emotional sketches, are best suited. Copying is direct imitation of a specific person (for example, a movie character) experiencing strong emotion. Try to reproduce his pose, gestures, facial expressions, words and intonation as accurately as possible. At the same time, listen carefully to your inner feelings. Emotional sketches are everyday life situations that you act out while in different emotional states.
See also: Empathy: Develop, but Limit! Part 1
Try to ask the question "What time is it now?" As a person who has a strong grief, as an anxious person, as a carefree person, as an indignant person, as a very happy person, etc. It is best if at this moment there is someone who will be able to assess the reliability of the etude (or say “I don’t believe it!” if the improvisation failed).
Developing cognitive empathy is a little more difficult. If only because understanding other people's feelings is based on how well we understand our own emotional states. Start by compiling your personal "dictionary of emotions" - try to remember and write down as many names of different emotional states as possible. According to the results of experiments, people with normally developed cognitive empathy are able to write 30 or more names of emotions in one approach. But if you've written less, don't despair! To develop empathy, you have to work with the list for a long time. It can be replenished gradually by adding new names to it.
Важно не просто записывать названия эмоций. Попытайтесь проанализировать каждое состояние, добавляя к нему комментарии: «Что чувствует человек, переживающий данную эмоцию?», «В каких ситуациях она возникает?», «Как выглядит и как себя ведет человек в этом состоянии?». Обязательно записывайте «примеры из жизни» – наблюдения за самим собой и за близкими людьми, когда они оказывались в том или ином состоянии. «Словарь эмоций» может стать основой для «дневника эмоций», в котором вы можете фиксировать все свои наблюдения за своей эмоциональной жизнью и за эмоциональными проявлениями значимых для вас людей.
Reading fiction is also helpful in developing cognitive empathy. Any classical text is a kind of textbook of the "logic of feelings", reflecting the experiences of the characters and the development of emotional relations between them. As we read, we not only empathize with the characters, but we are also actively involved in predicting, trying to anticipate how their attitudes will change by the end of the book. This is great for developing cognitive empathy!
But there are two caveats: it is important to read classical works (in the genre of realism) and these should be texts from your native culture (written in your native language). For the development of empathy, for example, "glossy novels" are useless, since the "logic of feelings" in them is violated for the sake of an exciting plot. Such books are even harmful, because they create many stereotypes about "a prince on a white horse", "high relationships", etc. You also need to be careful when describing emotions in translated books. The expression and experience of emotions is determined by cultural norms and traditions, which can vary greatly from time to time and in different countries. For example, if you are a fan of French literature (Hugo, Dumas, Stendhal, Maupassant, etc.), then it is not at all a fact that the models of emotional relationships described by them will be relevant “here and now”.
If you want to develop effective empathy, then start with the simplest - by developing a communicative attitude towards the interlocutor and mastering the skills of active listening. Attitude to the interlocutor is a consciously made decision about maximum concentration of attention on another person: “There is nothing more important and interesting than the person with whom I am communicating at the moment”. It may seem like there is nothing difficult to maintain such an attitude, but try to keep it in your everyday communication! For example, when your child pesters you with stupid conversations about your favorite toy, or one of your colleagues wants to discuss a routine but unpleasant task (and this is what he needs, not you). Learn to "turn on" interest in relation to the interlocutor, even if the communication situation itself does not seem particularly interesting.
Active listening is a collection of simple communication techniques / skills, the use of which literally forcibly switches our psyche into empathy mode. Active listening skills include: a certain "body language" (open posture, eye contact, smile), "aha-reactions", pauses (giving the interlocutor the opportunity to speak), clarifying and open questions, paraphrasing and summarizing the interlocutor's statements, messages about their own experiences and needs ("I-messages") and hypotheses about the experiences and desires of the interlocutor ("you-messages"). Active listening techniques are best learned and practiced with appropriate psychological training. However, if you set yourself this goal, it is quite possible to study them yourself.
In developing empathy, it is important to adhere to the "golden mean". If empathy is not developed, the person will have a reputation for being "insensitive" and he will most likely have problems in building close relationships (friendships, loving ones). Insufficiently developed empathy can also harm a career, especially in professions of the "person-to-person" type (managers, salespeople, doctors, teachers, psychologists)
On the other hand, overdeveloped empathy can lead to emotional exhaustion and even burnout. Emotional exchange between people is not always selfless: emotions can be an instrument of power and coercion. Overly empathic people can easily fall under the influence of a charismatic leader or become a victim of psychological pressure from a tyrant leader.
The ways to protect yourself from other people's toxic emotions can be different, but first of all, it is necessary to rely on cognitive empathy. If you feel that you are too much under someone else's influence, start analyzing the situation:
- "What do I really feel?"
- Why does this person affect my emotions so much?
- "Why and why does he need it?"
- "What alternative responses can I choose?"
- "What can I do to reduce or avoid this impact?"
Do not forget that under any circumstances you yourself are the master of your own emotions and developed empathy does not mean that you lose control over your state and / or shift responsibility for your feelings to another person.