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How to Be Empathetic

Have you ever seen someone do something that made you really mad? Something that was inconsiderate or rude? The feeling that I’m talking about is when you notice that not everyone is as nice as you are. That moment when you see that some people out there are actually a tad selfish or insensitive. Shocking, isn’t it?

Well, here is the reason I’m rambling about all this.. The other day, Gen and I were waiting for our Uber ride outside of a grocery store. While looking around, we noticed that there was a car parked diagonally in the middle of the lane. There was a woman sitting inside the parked car, who appeared to be waiting for someone. Now, this lasted a good 5-10 minutes. Everyone had to manoeuvre around her car, just to get in and out of the grocery store. I was quite shocked, not exactly understanding why this person couldn’t realize how much of an inconvenience her car was. This was very strange to me.  

To be honest, I really didn’t like this feeling. I didn’t like feeling annoyed and disappointed. That’s when it dawned on me. That thing that I’m sometimes all too familiar with, that quality that is so great to have. Empathy. If I could just take a moment, and well, relax, it might help me out. It’s shocking to see what relaxing can do. Things suddenly seem a lot more clear. Now, I admit, this time it may have taken me a bit longer than usual to relax, but when I finally did, this is what I realized..

How to be Empathetic

Shoes – Yes, this one might sound weird, but bear with me. You know that expression that says you have to walk in another person’s shoes to really know what they’re going through? Same thing applies here. I mean sure, that woman was standing in the way of traffic and people, but maybe she had had a bad day. Maybe she had car troubles. Maybe it was her first day driving in this sort of area and she just didn’t know what else to do. Okay, that last one might have been stretching it a bit, but you get what I’m saying. Just take a second to think about the other person and their struggles. I’ll be honest,  Gen sometimes has to remind me of this one.. very empathetic woman I married

Mirror – This one is kinda related to my last point. While  you’re thinking about how awful the other person is, take a moment to look at yourself. We often think we would never do anything like that, or that we would never be that inconsiderate, but how do you know that? How do you know exactly what you would do in that situation? Or, in any other situation? You may have made a mistake or two before. Nobody’s perfect. 

Honesty – Is this thing really bothering you? Is it just one of those things that you can’t let go of? Why don’t you try talking to the other person involved? Just try to be as polite as possible, and keep an open mind. You never know what you might find out! Of course, this doesn’t work in every situation. I’ll let you guys use your own judgement on this one.  

Sharing the Wealth – So this last one is important. Now that you have figured out this whole empathy thing, why not share the knowledge?  Explain to your friends how they can handle these situations. Raise awareness. Get more people to practice this kinda stuff.  Even better? Share this post with your friends!

When have you had to practice your empathy?  

When do you think empathy isn’t warranted?  When do you think it is?

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