We talk a lot about the fact that empathy is a skill that you can build and practice, but it can be hard to come up with ways to do this in your everyday life, especially when it doesn’t seem like other people are working on this skill.
As Roman Krznaric points out, empathy “seems to be in freefall”, even as it is being recognized as a critical skill for the future of work and a predictor of company success.
“98% of us have the ability to empathise wired into our brains, but we’re living far below our empathic potential.”– Roman Krznaric
So if that’s the case, let’s take a leaf out of Krznaric’s book and take some simple steps to practice empathy.
This might sound very simple, but an important part of building your emotional intelligence is understanding the emotions of another person. One of the best ways to understand their emotions and perspectives is to listen.
#2. Have a conversation with a stranger
Don’t talk to strangers may have been good advice when you were a kid, but in order to break down assumptions that get in the way of empathy, we need to talk to people that are different from us.
#3. Read different stories
Another way to challenge your assumptions is to read a book or watch a movie and take a journey to another place through another perspective.
#4. Be aware
Recognizing the emotions of others is an important piece of emotional intelligence, and one of the first steps that Brené Brown identifies in her definition of empathy. You can practice this using a variety of tools, and by trying the strategies above.
#5. Learn from kids
Children show us that they are creative geniuses, and they are also great teachers and learners of empathy. Programs like Roots of Empathy help teach this 21st century skill in classrooms, but if you’re out of the classroom, you could volunteer with a program for children in your community. You’ll be giving back and having an opportunity to practice your empathy skills!
For more information, check out Krznaric’s full article here.