How To Empathize With Others: Here Are 16 Actionable Tips

In today’s article you’re going to learn everything you need to know about how to empathize with others.

Empathy is the ability to feel what other people are feeling and is essential to forming meaningful relationships and peaceful coexistence. Some people are born with the ability to empathize, while others struggle to connect with others.

However, if you have trouble putting yourself in other people’s shoes, there are some things you can do to improve your empathy. This article explains what empathy is and what actions you can take right now to become more empathetic.

How To Empathize With Others:

1. Become aware of your own feelings.

In order to experience emotions with someone else, you must be able to feel them yourself. Are you aware of your emotions? Do you know when you are happy, sad, angry or afraid? Do you allow these emotions to arise and express themselves?

Work on allowing yourself to feel more deeply if you would rather suppress your emotions than allow them to be a part of your life.

Putting bad emotions aside is quite common. For example, it’s more pleasant to watch TV or go to a bar than to sit down and think about something sad that happened.

However, ignoring feelings leads to distance and a lack of familiarity. How can you expect to experience someone else’s pain if you can’t express your own?

Allow yourself to feel your emotions every day. Instead of rushing to erase unpleasant emotions, take time to reflect on them. Be angry and fearful, and deal with your emotions in healthy ways, such as writing down your thoughts or talking to a friend about how you feel.

2. Pay attention to what is being said.

Listen to what the person is saying and pay attention to the intonation of their voice. Examine any little clues that indicate the person’s true feelings.

Perhaps her lips are quivering and her eyes are sparkling. Perhaps it is more subtle-she always looks down or seems absent-minded. Step back from the situation and listen to the person’s story.

Put aside your preconceptions and listen. If you recall a conflict, judge this person’s decisions, or experience something else that pulls you out of the present, try to switch back into listening mode.

3. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

Have you ever read a fascinating story that drew you in so deeply that you lost track of time? For a few minutes, you were that character and understood exactly how it felt to see your father for the first time in ten years or to lose your love to someone else.

Empathy in a person is not that different. When you listen to someone and really try to understand what they are saying, you will reach a point where you start to feel what that person is experiencing. You’ll get a taste of what it’s like to be that person.

4. Don’t be alarmed if you experience discomfort.

Empathy can be exhausting! It’s painful to absorb another person’s suffering, and interacting at such a deep level takes work.

Perhaps this is why empathy declines: it’s just easier to keep interactions light and contained. You can’t avoid human feelings if you want to be more compassionate. Recognize that they will affect you and that you may feel differently as a result.

However, you will have a better knowledge of the other person, which will serve as a foundation for creating a stronger bond.

5. Show concern for the other person.

Ask questions that show you are attentive. Make eye contact, lean a little, and don’t fidget to show that you are attentive. When appropriate, nod, shake your head, or smile.

These are all examples of how to show empathy in the moment and gain the trust of the person who is expressing their emotions while talking to you. The speaker will most likely shut down and stop sharing secrets with you if you seem preoccupied, turn away, or give other signs that you are not listening or engaged.

Another technique for demonstrating empathy is to open up to yourself. Becoming as vulnerable as the other person can help build mutual trust and connection. Allow yourself to relax and participate in the discussion.

SEE ALSO: How To Talk To Strangers: (15 Ridiculously Useful Strategies)

6. Use your empathy to help others.

Empathy for others is a learning process, and it is important to use what you have learned to guide your future actions. Perhaps this means standing up for someone who is often bullied because you now understand them better.

It may affect how you behave when you meet someone new in the future, or how you feel about specific social or political issues. Let empathy guide your actions in the world.

7. Be willing to learn more about something you are unsure about.

Empathy is born out of a willingness to learn more about other people and their lives. Take an interest in what life is like for those who are not like you. Try to learn as much as you can about different topics each day. Here are some ideas to spark your interest:

Make it a point to travel more. When you visit a place you’ve never been to, try to spend time with the locals and learn more about their way of life.

Talk to strangers. Instead of burying yourself in a book on the bus, strike up a conversation with the person next to you.

Step outside your comfort zone. If you prefer to hang out with the same people and go to the same places over and over again, mix things up and start meeting new people. Try to broaden your horizons (1).

8. Develop empathy toward those you don’t like. 

Make an effort to modify how you feel, or at least become more familiar with the people and organizations you dislike if you discover places where your empathy is weak. Ask yourself why you feel disgust for someone at any time.

Decide that instead of avoiding or disregarding that person, you will put yourself in their shoes. Figure out what you can learn by empathizing with someone you dislike.

Remember that you can feel sympathy even if you don’t reach an agreement. It’s possible to have empathy for someone you don’t like. And who knows, maybe if you open up a little more, you’ll discover the basis for reconsidering your opinion of that person.

9. Make sure to ask about people’s feelings.

This is a fundamental method of generating everyday expressions of empathy. Ask others about their feelings more regularly and genuinely listen to their answers rather than assuming that talking about feelings is forbidden.

This is not to say that every conversation has to be deep, somber, or philosophical. On the other hand, listening to people’s feelings can help you become more engaged and see the person you’re talking to.

The other side of the coin is being more honest when someone asks about your feelings. Why not tell the truth instead of answering “Great!” when you’re really down? See what happens when you let your emotions come out a little more instead of keeping them locked up.

10. Increase your reading and viewing of fiction.

Reading lots of stories in the form of books, movies, and other forms of media can help you increase empathy. According to research, reading literary fiction increases your ability to empathize in real life.

It encourages you to imagine what your life might be like if you were someone else. Moments of laughter or crying can help you be more emotionally open with others.

SEE ALSO: How To Tell If Someone Doesn’t Respect You: 13 Clear Signs

11. Make an effort to empathize with someone you can trust.

If you’re not sure if you’re empathic or not, try practicing empathy with someone else. Make sure the person knows you are working on it, so they will understand if you don’t hit the perfect note.

Ask the person to tell you how they feel, and then practice all of the above methods to feel the same way as they do. Then express how you feel as a consequence of what she said.

Check to see if the emotions were the same. You may have been able to understand the person’s feelings if she expressed sadness and you felt sad when she spoke.

If the emotions don’t match, you may need to spend more time in touch with your own feelings and practice recognizing emotions in others.

12. Think of empathy as sharing someone’s feelings.

Empathy is the ability to feel for another person. It requires going below the surface and feeling the same emotions as someone else.

It’s easy to confuse empathy with sympathy, a situation in which we feel sorry for someone and act on those emotions in an attempt to help them. However, empathy is more than just feeling sorry for someone; it is sharing your experience with them.

Another way to think about empathy is through shared understanding, or the ability to empathize with another person.

The concept of stepping into someone’s shoes is a metaphor for empathy.

Being compassionate entails sharing all feelings, not just the negative ones. Empathy is being aware of all of a person’s feelings and emotions in order to understand what it is like to be that person.

13. Recognize your ability to empathize with people from all walks of life.

You don’t have to share someone’s background to feel empathy for them. Because you’ve already been there, it’s not about having a shared understanding.

In fact, even if you have nothing in common with someone, you can feel empathy for that person. Empathy is the ability to feel what another person is feeling, regardless of what that experience is. It does not have to be something you have experienced in the past.

This means that you can empathize with anyone.

Even if a young person has never experienced it, they can empathize with an old man in a nursing facility. Even if he has always had a roof over his head and food, a wealthy person can identify with someone who is homeless. A person sitting across the aisle may empathize with a stranger on a train.

Put differently, empathy is not about speculating what someone’s life might be like; it is about authentically experiencing what that person is going through on an emotional level.

14. Recognize that empathy toward someone does not require that you agree with them.

In fact, you can feel empathy for someone even if you completely disagree with their views and don’t really like them.

Even if you don’t like someone, they are still human and experience the same range of feelings as you do. Even if it is difficult, you can sympathize with that person’s grief and suffering just as you would with a loved one.

It is possible that developing the ability to empathize with someone we don’t like is even more crucial. Empathy allows us to recognize each other as people who, no matter what, need love and compassion. This opens the door to a perspective of peace.

15. Forget the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

“The Golden Rule (2)” doesn’t really apply when it comes to empathy because it doesn’t help you understand what it’s like to be someone else. Instead of imposing your own experiences and ideas, being empathetic involves exposing yourself to someone else’s point of view, someone else’s “tastes.”

Think about how you would like to be treated. This is the starting point for being kind and conscientious, but to be compassionate you need to go a little further.

This is a demanding task and can even be unpleasant. However, the more often you do it, the more you will understand the people around you.

16. Discover the importance of empathy.

Empathy enhances the personal and social quality of life. It produces a sense of shared meaning and makes us feel more connected to those around us.

Moreover, the ability of individuals to feel empathy for those who are not like them leads to significant social benefits. It helps people and communities overcome racism, homophobia, sexism, classism, and other forms of discrimination.

It is the foundation for social cooperation and mutual aid. Where would we be if we didn’t have empathy?

You may enhance your capacity to be empathetic by getting in touch with your sense of empathy and making it a daily priority, and then watching your life improve as a result.

I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to empathize with others. I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you.

Przemkas Mosky
Przemkas Mosky started Perfect 24 Hours in 2017. He is a Personal Productivity Specialist, blogger and entrepreneur. He also works as a coach assisting people to increase their motivation, social skills or leadership abilities. Read more here