Empathy is a quality involved in emotional intelligence, and it is also a life skill. Our lives sometimes seem quite separate and distinct from that of others, but we fool ourselves to think that our existence and identity on our beings is not dependent on the world around us. We are fed by the planet, we benefit from discoveries of humans long dead, we have evolved from previous cultures and respond to people and events based largely on childhood experiences and our DNA.
How independent are you really?
Humans are also a social animal, and it feels most natural and fulfilling for us when we are bonding with others. A part of how we do this is through empathy.
“The Other Kind of Smart” describes empathy as:
Being able to accurately read where other people are at emotionally” […] Empathy happens at an awareness and understanding level. We do not have to agree with people or particularly like them to have empathy for them.
When others feel understood by us, they feel closer to us and open up more of themselves. They trust us. This is being picked up in the sales and marketing world where understanding the customer is becoming a large part of business development plans.
In terms of dharma, we all are in the same human experience of suffering and craving a sense of union. We’re all shaped by our karma. We’re all minuscule specs in the face of time and space that take ourselves way too seriously. Often we deceive ourselves that our life perspective is more important than the zillions of lives that have lived in the past, present, or will be in the future.
It need not be depressing to realize our insignificance. But maybe it should be humbling, and put our priorities in place. It is quite a miracle that we exist at all, and now we have a choice of what to do with the life that we have for a limited period of time. Each of us has our part.
Think of people you go to for support when you need it. What qualities do they have?
Recall a sales person who you thought was really effective – what did you like about them?
Below practices are from “The Other Kind of Smart”
Pick a conversation every day and pay attention to the feelings behind the words, the tone. Ask questions about the feeligns to see if your perceptions are accurate
In a conversation you’re not involved directly, see if you can figure out how each person is feeling
Pick the person you feel most open with. Spend a few minutes each day listening to what they’re saying and giving feedback to how you think they felt. Avoid making judgments.
After watching a movie talk with friends about how characters felt and why.