We all like to spend time by ourselves. Playing a game like the Eye of Horus demo, for example, is a single-player experience, but such experiences can’t last forever. As we are social beings, we eventually need to interact with other people.
When we do this, being able to empathize becomes very important because it is the secret of happiness for ourselves and others. So, what is empathy, and why should we “care”? We answer these questions below.
What Is Empathy?
Empathy can be defined as understanding someone else’s feelings and emotional state. In addition, empathy is also used in the sense of projecting one’s own feelings onto other objects.
Empathy is the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes and understand that person’s feelings, thoughts, and wishes. In general, there is no single universal definition of empathy. When we look at academic resources, we come across different definitions of it.
For example, American psychologist Carl Ransom Rogers, one of the founders of the humanistic approach, defines empathy as a person’s putting themself in the other person’s place, looking at events from their perspective, understanding their feelings and thoughts correctly, and showing that they understand.
From this definition, 3 basic rules necessary for empathy can be understood:
1) the person puts themself in the place of the other person and looks at the events from their perspective,
2) the person understands the feelings and thoughts of the other person correctly,
3) the person shows that they understand the person in front of them. So, can anyone empathize? Or let’s ask it like this, does everyone have the ability to empathize?
We Can Develop Our Empathy
As a matter of fact, yes! Everyone can empathize in one way or another. It just depends on how much this ability is used. Research on babies shows that even they have a limited ability to empathize. In other words, our ability to empathize is innate.
However, if the ability to empathize is not used, it is lost over time. Just like a muscle that is not used, the ability to empathize melts away. That’s why we should look for ways to develop empathy skills, or at least learn how to use this ability.
So how can we do this? We know that we can empathize even when we are little babies. As we grow up, we develop this innate ability by looking at the behavior of those around us and taking them as an example.
The process of developing empathy starts with our parents and continues with the interactions we have with the people around us. At this point, some people constantly use their ability to empathize, while others do not realize how important this skill is.
For example, we do not ask open-ended questions to understand the feelings, thoughts, and wishes of the person in front of us. We mean questions that start with “how and why.” Let’s say your co-worker says he can’t come to work tomorrow because he’s feeling down.
However, instead of asking him why, you close the subject by saying, “get well soon.” Maybe when your partner says something like “I don’t want- I want that,” you just say it’s okay or not, but you’re not trying to find out why.
The reason for this is that you do not want to use your empathy skills. We take the easy way and do not understand how important it is to empathize to communicate correctly.
Empathy Is Beneficial for Both individuals and Societies
To empathize, you need to understand other people. And to do this, you need to be a good listener before anything else. If you don’t listen to what the other person has to say, you won’t be able to understand their true thoughts, right?
Considering that most people today do not know how to listen, we can understand why we lack empathy so much. Most of us focus more on what we’re going to reply to or what we want to hear rather than what the other person is saying.
Therefore, we are unable to put ourselves in the other party’s shoes and correctly interpret what they are saying. The invisible walls we have built around us make both what the other party says and our answer meaningless.
However, in order to empathize, we must be good listeners, increase our awareness, show that we understand the other person, and truly put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.
Empathy has several different benefits. The most important of these is being able to communicate correctly, and this is a skill that will contribute positively to our lives in all aspects.
Being able to empathize can make our life easier in all areas, from business life to relationships in our private life. In this respect, empathy is one of the keys to peace and happiness, both individually and socially.
Empathy frees you from selfishness. It allows you to be a sensitive person and spend your life as a much more peaceful and happier person. You will understand the person in front of you better, and you will be more successful in your social relations.
You deal with your own and the other person’s problems wisely, and you start to think more solution-oriented. You will be loved and respected in society.