21st century is an age of Extrospection. Merriam-Webster dictionary meaning of Extrospection is “examination or observation of what is outside oneself”. And the simplest way of practising Extrospection is showing Empathy. Now, we all understand empathy as putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and looking at the situation, think their thoughts and feel their feelings. But above all, empathy is a choice and we all make this choice of whether or not to be empathetic every moment of everyday.
But are we really empathetic? Lets find out what we have become today and what an empathetic person is?
- “I am the best” – The 20th century was an age of introspection. That age taught us that the best way to discover our lives and who we are, is to look within ourselves. And that pushes us to pursuing a lifestyle through self-interest. Most of the self-help books written in the past century would teach us that. So, thanks to our ancestors, we are selfish human beings. it is unnatural for us to think of others first. Also, we like to world to think and act just like us. An empathetic person thinks about the other person’s perspective first. No, it’s not sacrificing your happiness for the others. Nope. It about being sensitive about the other person’s feelings. Most of the time, the other person is saying the same thing but with different words. Think and don’t jump to be heard.
2. “Screw it…just do it” – Our age is result oriented. We are also the age of working in teams. Working in teams can help achieve fantastic results in every area. But we get so focused on the results, that we start working in isolation. We just think about our area of work and not how our work can benefit others and vice versa in achieving a common objective. Your way might be right for you, not for others. As a team member, we need to understand where everyone is coming from and how a true collaboration can happen. It’s not just about our development, it’s about developing others and helping others to do their best. An empathetic person doesn’t rush, he thinks about others and what they want to do and then starts thinking about how his expertise and work can completed others towards the common goal.
3. “Just listen to me” – So how often have you heard this being said to you or to others? Many time is my guess. We just want to be heard. We think we are effective listeners, but we are not. We live in an extroverted world, where “everybody needs somebody” just to hear them out. Communication has become conversations where one person is just waiting for the other person to take a breath, that pause is where he quickly jumps in and gives his views which may or may to be directly related to the topic being discussed. Also, since we like to be liked by other people, we all believe that we are empathetic towards everyone. An empathetic person hears you, he understands where you are coming from. He suggests (doesn’t impose) solutions, he empathise (not criticises). He wants to know more about it (doesn’t want to end it after the download).
4. “No one can think like me, I can make it big, if they let me” – Another disadvantage of the extroverted, self-centred society we live in. The problem is that we think too much. And when we think too much we create more problems and then the solutions to those problems, which gives us a sense of false bravery and intelligence. We don’t realise that we complicate things ourselves unnecessarily. An empathetic person has confidence in himself but in others too. He respects the other person’s expertise and opinion. He is open to suggestions and can work according to his team members rather than “singing from his own hymn sheet.” He never thinks that he is the most intelligent of the lot. He allows himself to be part of the herd and not an outlier.
So, are you empathetic? Well, truth be told, I am not. But, I am learning. How I understand empathy is “seeing from the eyes of another, listening to from the ears of another and feeling from the heart of another.” Which is a herculean task. But atleast am trying.
It’s a long life and it can be lonely sometimes. Every body requires somebody who has their back. Which side do you want to be on is your choice.
Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments section. Until next time.