How to Properly Show Empathy

It’s time to get rid of the notion that men shouldn’t show emotion. Desensitizing yourself to the problems of others is not the best coping mechanism. Empathy improves people skills and strengthens relationships. doesn’t come naturally for everyone, so here are ways to show more towards your wife, child, friend, or any loved one.

Reflect Back at Yourself

Don’t feel ashamed or upset for struggling with empathy. Some people are more prone to emotion and sensitivity than others. Acknowledging that you need help building empathy is the first step to working on it.

Think about why you don’t have as much empathy. Did you recently go through a very traumatic event? Do you have any biases or prejudices? Are you showing signs of EDD (Empathy Deficit Disorder)?

Consulting with a psychologist or therapist is a good way to detect the problem. He or she will help you talk through current situations and offer solutions for coping. You can learn from the professional as well since they will most likely show empathy themselves.

Use Your Imagination

The phrase “putting yourself in another’s shoes” is both accurate and effective. Try to envision the struggles of the other person. See the hurdles they may have and imagine what you would do if you were them. Would you react the same way, or react differently, and if so, how and why?

It might be hard to distinctly visualize the problem. Try to think of a similar experience in your life. Assess how you handled it and if you could’ve handled it better. Trying to connect yourself to the struggles of another person is the beginning of properly showing empathy.

Use Your Words

Talking about the problem out is a healthy coping mechanism. Sit down with the person and promise to listen. This means taking everything they say into consideration. This also means letting them finish their sentences and thoughts before you interject.

Reassure them that things do get better, and the problem will pass. Apologies may come from a place of kindness, but they don’t carry much meaning. Additionally, you don’t want to sound like you’re pitying the other person.

Instead, focus on phrases such as “I understand” and “You are not alone.” Remember to always add feelings into this equation. Most importantly, selflessly validate their feelings on the subject. For instance, you can say “Your feelings are valid” or “I see why you would feel that way,” and ask questions to prompt more talking so you can understand them completely.

Body Language

Words aren’t everything, and often actions do speak louder than words. You need to show proper body language when being empathetic. If your words don’t match your position and gestures, then it could come off as insincere.

Lean forward when listening to let the person know you are genuinely interested in what he or she has to say. Nod as they talk to show attentiveness and understanding. Maintain eye contact. Even a kind smile may boost their spirits.

Offering physical affection is a good use of body language. In fact, displaying physical affection can boost oxytocin levels and make the both of you feel better. A pat on the shoulder or a hug can amplify your support and understanding. Always ask the other person first since not everybody is comfortable with physical affection — and don’t take it personally if they say no.

Don’t cross your arms, since it is often known as a defense mechanism. Looking away shows disinterest and distraction. Avoid yawning, since that shows boredom — if you’re feeling sleepy, excuse yourself. Always make time to talk when you are alert and in a good mood.

See if Your Cues are Successful

As you have a one-on-one conversation with your loved ones, see if you are getting to them successfully. If you notice their mood doesn’t improve, take a different approach. If you don’t agree with them, ask for more explanation to see their point of view (remember, it’s about them, not you). In addition, suppress any frustration or impatience because that will definitely make things worse.

Directness is key. Being upfront doesn’t have to equal arrogance; you can be honest and still be gentle. Ask “What can I do to help you?” or just simply “Am I helping you?” Asking questions demonstrates that you care and you are serious in wanting to support them.

If everything is going well, accept understanding and thankfulness. Tell them that you are available to listen at any time, which will boost their mood and secure their trust in you. Once you start getting good at this, you’ll be able to help other people too.

Try It Out

There are more ways to exhibit your empathy than having a heart to heart. During your next evening out at a social event, try to read the people around you. Is someone standing in the corner with their arms folded, not talking to anyone? Go up to them and ask if something is wrong.

Volunteer work is a great way to show empathy. Helping as a volunteer demonstrates selflessness, generosity, and compassion. See if there are any charity events happening near you and fill out a volunteer form, or perhaps you can even volunteer online. Even participating in a charity event such as a walk or bike ride illustrates empathy for the cause.

If you struggle with face to face interactions, try 7Cups, a service for online therapy and counseling. You can volunteer as a listener and anonymously chat with someone who is dealing with a problem. This is a good way to practice listening and staying emotionally fit. When you find yourself feeling down, you can use 7Cups to vent to someone else who is willing to listen, or you can look into their promotions for online therapy.

Whether at home or in the workplace, empathy benefits everybody. Empathy supports collaboration among others and promotes positive trust, growth, wellness, and thoughtfulness. Empathy helps avoid conflict as well as psychological problems such as anxiety and depression. Once you do good for someone else, you will feel good in turn.