Demonstrating empathy & support.
I recently overheard a conversation that lacked empathy and support. It went like this. One friend says to another: ”I’m very upset about my daughter being bullied in school.” Friend replies: ”Oh, she’s sure a tough kid. She’ll get through it.”
This response is shallow and doesn’t address the communicator’s needs. So many people don’t see it or rather feel it that way. They want to fix it or pass it off. Realize, when another party expresses an emotion they are reaching out for empathy and support. When empathy is not returned it may feel like being dismissed.
Empathy requires some energy to feel another person’s feelings. It’s not sympathy when we feel sorry for someone. It’s not exchanging problems, such as “I was bullied and I turned out OK.” It’s not about the respondent but about the communicator.
We can make deeper connections with others when we demonstrate empathy. The other party, in return, is likely to feel consoled and understood with an empathetic response.
Importantly, avoid one-upping. That is when someone tells you about a situation and you come back with a worse situation. Again, it’s dismissive.
What to say to show empathy? Try some of these replies.
“I feel for you. Your daughter is so kind and doesn’t deserve that treatment.”
“It feels to me you have a tough situation. Would you like to talk about it?”
“That’s sounds like a painful experience.”
If at a loss for something to say, try “Tell me more” or “How can I be helpful?”
Lastly, consider what you would like someone to say to you in a similar situation. Pause, then respond.
Practice empathy. It feels good.
Want to talk about empathy or want a complimentary life coaching discovery session? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (585) 241.3020 (EST).