Empathy

Once I read a philosophical question in a book which was “If you have a chance what would you ask more into this world to the people?” This question just popped up in my mind time by time and have been thinking of my “wish”. It’s not an easy question since everything have consequences, negative and positive as well. I went for that one which has the less negative effect I believe. I would ask more refined empathy ability for people. Almost all of us have this ability but seems like less and less people use it refindly. Of course this ability depends on our personality, somebody has less and not well refined but also this ability is able to be improved.

Why empathy? I believe if we all will use a certain level of refined empathy daily our world would be less unfair, cruel and over-greedy and just have more care of each other. I must note that there are personality disorders which prevent some people to feel or being empath, like Narcissictic Personality Disorder, Psychopathy and Machiavellianism are the most well known.

What is empathy exactly?

Empathy is an ability of compassion, ability of seeing with the eyes of another, listening with ears of another  and feeling with the heart of another. (Buda 1978). It is the ability of metacommunication’s perception and understanding. We are able to feel and understand emotions which are not or have not been expressed by words or not followed from the situation itself.

Empathy itself however not enough yet

It’s becoming empathy when we process the experience consciously and we identify and interpret the understood relationships to the other or to ourselves. An empathic person actually draws the partner into his- or herself.

Empathy

 

What is NOT empathy?

There are several situations when we think or believe we understand other and sometimes it happens but we do not do it with empathy. Some example:

– We feel sympathy toward another person. This is an automatic and well awaken able reception of other’s emotions. We don’t need to have an intention of understanding and missing the feeling of “diving” into other. We don’t feel we become one with the other person, we rather feel detached and our produced emotions get importance. Sympathy is mainly about us because we don’t try to put ourselves into the other person’s shoes. So often we don’t even know or understand what these mean to the other.

– When we use our already exist knowledge about general human reactions in daily social situations. We reach rational conclusions with using rules and inductions. These are all about general experiences while empathy is real getting psyched up for the other person.

– When we try to project ourselves into a situation of another person using our exist experiences. Like if we have a test and we are anxious in the same situation we expect other people to feel and having the same reaction in this situation. When we attribute our own experience to other people that is called projection. Projection is a kind of opposite of empathy because we use the other person as an empty screen what we can paint on our own emotions, so we are not able to perceive that person individually. Projection can prevent us to understand motivation of another person and we can easily judge this person negatively.

Levels of empathy

Empathy is an ability what most of us have but manifest itself on a different level. We define 6 levels what we can reach in a talk or an interaction.

  1. Careful examination of another person’s situation with using logical substitution: it’s still not empathy but helps to create primary condition to see our partner’s situation in his/her point of view.
  2. Understanding the other person’s emotional attitude: we understand emotions which are directed to us or to others what we are not always allowed to express because of norms.
  3. Correct understanding of the partner’s promotive communication (simple tooltip): in the hidden communication the communicator’s wish or desires are expressed what she/he doesn’t want or can’t freely take over. (Simple tooltip content: manifestations which have hidden messages referring to what to or not to do the other person).
  4. Understanding the other person emotional inconsistency: fully empathic level where the understood contents are often subconscious, mainly because of their characteristic contradictorily.
  5. Understanding the other person’s unique relations of mental proceedings: almost fully the other’s direct manifestation is the source of information, from which his/her emotional internal logic becoming understandable. On this level we can give explanation to the other person’s experience world, like the other person is able to do as well.
  6. Understanding the latent history of other person’s mental proceeding: recognition of relations between experiences and emotions related to past, which sometimes bring to the surface children experiences.

Every each level expresses how far we are able to get into comprehension to understand emotions and tempers.

Why does it worth to be an empath?

We are able to understand our partner in our close relationship spontaneously without using so much energy. We get more complexed information about our interaction partner and minimizes misunderstandings in communication, verbal and non-verbal as well. With empathy we get information about if we are sympathetic to our partner or not, we can also feel if it is related to our behaviour or not. The main function of empathy is giving feedbacks about our effects on other people. These feedbacks has a key role to control our self-image and behaviour. If the correction and balancing characteristic of empathy is not effective, usually it conduce to personal or behaviour disorders.

What would be your “wish”? What would you ask more into this world to the people?

Let me know in comment……

Empathy can be improved by special techniques and very beneficial for everybody. Next week I give you some techniques how you can improve or if you want to learn more about it and develop your personality get an appointment to my coaching.

 

 

Sources: Joseph P. Forgas: Interpersonal Behaviour. The psychology of Social Interaction (1985)

Daniel Goleman:  Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman: Social Intelligence

Picture: http://www.psychalive.org

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