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Why Is Empathy So Important?

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

Entrepreneur

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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