Emotional Intelligence- The Empathy Wheel

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While we have discussed in some details about empathy, I would still like to discuss more as I discover more and more and try practicing it myself. So, the factors which govern empathy can be listed as under:

  1. Self-awareness: This may sound paradoxical as empathy is supposed to be getting into the shoes of the other person or seeing things from the other’s perspective. However, brain circuits that allow us to think about our own thoughts and hence the emotions that follow, same are used when we try to find why the other person behaved in the way they did or the way they saw different situations. Hence it is very important to understand your own feelings before you understand the feelings of others, which is all about self-awareness.
  2. Selfless: empathy is all about the other person. You cannot have ulterior motives or any vested interest when you try to peek into the minds of the other person. Empathy cannot be selfish.
  3. Attention: One of the most important qualities to have is to give 100% undivided attention when someone is communicating with you. Switch off the TV, put the mobile in silent mode or close the door of your office cabin when your colleague/very close family member wants to discuss some very important point or issue.
  4. Solution: empathy is different than sympathy. Sympathy is when you feel like another person feels. Empathy means you understand how the other person feels though you do not feel the same way. In empathy, you understand the problem of the other person and know exactly how the other person feels, but since you don’t feel the same way, you can distance yourself from the problem and offer some solutions. You are not part of the problem, so you can be a part of the solution. E.g. when a husband comes back home in the evening from a long office day, his wife would offer him with- “you must be tired and hungry working the whole day in office, let me get some tea and snacks for you before we get ready for dinner” or a person may offer comfort to other by saying- “you are feeling sea sickness traveling, let me get a tablet and a wet towel for you, you will feel better”. With empathy, you are sensitive to the feedback from the other person.
  5. Inquisitive: Inquisitive nature fuels empathy. The care needs to be taken of not being interrogative. Some people are very curious to find out and understand the person around them like- what they thought, what they did, why they acted in the way they did, what could have been their compulsions for their reactions, what worked for them and what didn’t etc. Being inquisitive and naturally interested in others helps us to be more empathetic.
  6. Connect: Identifying the emotions of others is a very important part of empathy. For this to happen one needs to connect with the people around looking for the non-verbal communication signals they are sending, picking up something happening at the most subtle level-like a smile on the face may try to stop the tears in the eyes….can you pick that signal? Can you give attention to the tone, volume, pitch, and pace of their voices? How is their body language? Do they radiate confidence/fear/anxiety/positivity etc.?
  7. Focus: there is a difference between paying full attention (discussed above) and being focused on the other person. Being attentive is keeping all the external distractions away and then concentrating on that person fully. Being focused is removing all the distractions of your own thoughts and emotions and engaging all your energies and concentration mentally as well as physically towards the other person.
  8. Intuition: It is very important for us to not only sense how people feel but also find what they need from you without telling you about it. So many times we expect and wish our spouses or doctors to understand the pain we are going through without we actually saying it….This intuitive quality is more pronounced for our loved ones. Say a mother will intuitively experience the distress her child is suffering from as if it was her own.

8 thoughts on “Emotional Intelligence- The Empathy Wheel”

  1. Very thought provoking article. Empathy is what our society seriously lack. Unless we Exhibit empathy it will not be possible to move people who are in the bottom of the pyramid to the next level. The pandemic has opened our eyes and made us realise how empathy can play an important role in reaching out to those who are less fortunate than us. Looking forward for some more such thought provoking articles.

  2. चांगली माहीती मिळाली.
    सध्याच्या करोना परिस्थितीत काय करता .येईल ?

    1. Best is to support the govt and police by staying at home. Many people show empathy to the police by giving them food water, in this sweltering heat. Supporting doctors and other medical staff by staying at home is the best thing to do

  3. Awesome post!
    Came at tye right time when I am going through many emotions and feelings.
    The intuition part is so well explained…
    It’s really true….no one else in the world can understand and find a solution for your distress than your mother.
    Thanks for sharing your such insightful knowledge!

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