Theory – Part 2

Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings and experiences. It is emotionally “walking in another person’s shoes” feeling what they feel and seeing yourself and the world from their perspective. Empathy is not the same as sympathy. Watch Brene Brown’s 2-minute video explaining the difference.

You don’t have to agree with another person’s perspective or feelings to be empathetic toward them. Being empathetic means you recognize, understand and connect with the emotion they are experiencing.

In actual reality as opposed to virtual reality, you can’t always be put into someone else’s shoes and many times you can’t even imagine what it might be like from their perspective- you can only think about what you would do or feel in their situation, which isn’t the same as understanding what they actually are experiencing and feeling in the moment. What you can do, however, is ask sincere, appreciative questions about that person’s experience and perspective.

Remember to listen and try not to judge. Also, thank them for sharing. You don’t have to agree with their point of view. It is about trying to understand where they are coming from and what they are feeling. For additional resources on perspective taking with empathy read the article, Perspective-Taking: The Solution To Managing Workplace Relationships.