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Why Is Empathy So Important?

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Why Is Empathy So Important?

Empathy – that is, the ability to understand and be aware of, co-experience the feelings and thoughts of other people, is probably one of the most important skills a person may have. And it’s not just for building and maintaining strong and healthy relationships, but to work more effectively and achieve greater success in life in general. It may sound a bit idealistic, but it doesn’t prevent it from being true. So why exactly is empathy so important for us?

1. Humans Are Social Animals

No matter how you look at it, humans exist in communication with each other, and there are very few activities they take part in that don’t include interactions with other human beings in this or that form. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the ability to better understand others and read their feelings and emotions gives an edge to the one who has it. It allows you to perceive others’ motives, treat them the way they want to be treated, mind their needs, understand how others perceive you, and so on.

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2. It Is Good for Business and Career

Whether you are a business owner or an employee, whether you work in sales or IT, empathy can make all the difference in the world for your career prospects. Good business relationships are built on trust, and to build up trust you have to first understand what the other party wants, needs and expects. Empathy makes this a natural process. Thus, whether you want to build healthy cooperation with your colleagues, employees and bosses or try to organize trust-based marketing approach, empathy is going to be of great help.

3. It Lets You Better Understand Non-Verbal Components of Communication

Communication is so much more than what words express. People who are weak at empathy have very hard time reading between the lines of their conversations and understanding that what the other person means, or wants, to communicate to them is something completely different from what they actually say.

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4. It Makes You Be Better at Handling Conflicts

When you subliminally perceive what the other party wants and needs and can understand exactly why they want and need it, reaching a “win-win” solution gets so much easier. You no longer have to blindly grasp for a solution, misreading the other party’s signals and searching for a way out in the wrong place.

5. It Makes It Easier to Convince and Motivate Others

When you are able to see the world from another’s point of view, see their motives, feelings and preconceptions, finding ways to convince others to your point of view and motivating them to do something becomes much easier than when you try to use a one-size-fits-all approach. Different people are motivated by vastly different things, and having empathy means having keys to understanding them on the fly.

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6. It Broadens Your Horizons

If empathy means co-experiencing the world from another person’s point of view, feeling with that person, it naturally follows that if you are strong at empathy, it allows you to perceive the world from multiple viewpoints. When you see the world not only from your own perspective, but from the perspectives of other people as well, it lets you perceive it to a fuller extent, see unexpected and previously unknown parts of it and, in general, live a more fulfilled life.

Empathy, on a very basic level, is what makes us human. Thus it is hardly surprising that achieving higher levels of empathy very often means achieving greater success and fulfillment as human beings – which means that concentrating on training your empathetic ability is a very sound course of action.

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Featured photo credit: Stephen Acuna/flickr.com via flickr.com

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Melissa Burns

Melissa is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. She writes about communication, entrepreneurship and success on Lifehack.

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