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Should There Be A Line Between Work And Your Personal Life?

Should There Be A Line Between Work And Your Personal Life?

In the working world, there are certain industries that stand out for being highly competitive and cut throat. Examples include the Banking and Finance sector, Start Up’s and IT where anyone can easily be replaced, kicked out and competition is fierce. It becomes every man to himself when climbing the corporate ladder of success. In such a context, many workers become task-oriented and focus only on themselves. A classic dog eat dog world. How can they get the next promotion? What must they do to earn a bigger commission or bonus? Or at least avoid getting replaced or losing their job to the next Ivy League graduate?

Me, Myself and I 

With this shift in the way organizations work, employee behaviors change to adapt, and this individualistic turn impacts relationships greatly. In competitive, stressful jobs (which are increasingly common), we see more superficial relationships and a lack of trust and ruthlessness between co-workers. Some individuals become accustomed to constantly being on their toes, or overly cautious. But when they carry that outside of their professional role, there can be consequences for their lives and relationships.

Have you ever come across co workers behaving in such a competitive way that they tend to keep things to themselves, are task orientated and showing little empathy? Or acting overly cautious, trusting no one and keeping relationships strictly on a ‘work only’ basis? Unfortunately, because of how many organizations are set up, these behaviors are now more common in many.

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What happens after office hours? 

There are many consequences for interpersonal relationships because of how we train ourselves to behave at work. Many people spend between 8-12 hours/day at work, so the behaviors we shape there can carry with us into other parts of life. When we allow this to happen, it can affect the people around us – those in our life outside of work.

We may soon find ourselves becoming detached from our feelings, being reluctant to open up to friends and loved ones because we have become accustomed to not letting our guard down and not trusting people so easily for fear of being used or backstabbed.

Our friendships may become very transactional due to the ‘work only’ relationships that we are used to forming at the work. As a result, we start losing the concept of going beyond, or giving with no strings attached when it comes to treating our loved ones.

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Due to our cautious behavior, we may find that there is less or lack of communication since we do not wish to divulge personal information for fear of someone using it against us. Eventually, we may find that our relationships outside of work are fragmented or distant because there is no longer depth in those relationships.

How to change Me into a Us? 

The ideal situation is to make sure work is separated from personal life. They are supposed to be different. Letting work consume elements of one’s personal life is usually not beneficial for anyone.

Recognising that friends and family outside of work are a source of refuge where we can feel safe to trust and turn to is important. Outside of work, we should be able to de stress and let our guard down, and family/friends are the people that we can trust will not harm us.

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We have to intentionally make an effort to be present when spending time with our loved ones, and not being preoccupied with work thoughts. This will allow us to be ourselves and decrease that competitive edge. Realising that empathy and sincerity is not a sign of weakness is also important in overcoming that mindset of being guarded.

Overall social support is related to increasing happiness and lower stress, overall better mental and physical well-being. If we are already in such a high stress and competitive work environment, friends and loved ones are exactly the people you need to turn to for relief. So communication is crucial in allowing friends to understand what we are going through.

Make love, not war

There might be some need to be overly cautious at work, yes. People might be gunning for us, back-stabbing, gossiping or hoping to get ahead of us. Unfortunately, these things do happen, and increasingly more.

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But simply because such behaviors exist doesn’t mean we need to put up a wall all the time. In fact, if we find ourselves being so guarded at work, we should be more transparent and open to our friends and family outside of work. They don’t need a promotion over us. It’s a safe space, so we should allow ourselves to be part of that.

When we let negative work attitudes influence how we live our day-to-day life, nothing good comes out of it. But if we separate them and understand the need for strong relationships to counter-balance some of the work stress, our well being will improve.

Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com

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Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on June 11, 2019

Why Some People Have a Lack of Empathy (And How to Deal with Them)

Why Some People Have a Lack of Empathy (And How to Deal with Them)

We all have interacted with some people that seem to have a lack of empathy, at some point of our lives. I know that those experiences can leave us feeling frustrated, unsettled, angry, disappointed, and even betrayed, mainly when we need support.

It gets even harder and more painful if you are in a relationship with someone who is unable to put themselves in your shoes. Especially when we consider some of these people our friends, or maybe even worse, when those people are family members and we have to be in contact with them frequently.

In this article, I will share with you the signs when someone is lacking empathy, why some people seem to lack it, and how to deal with them so that you don’t feel so frustrated and disappointed, and you can lead a happier life.

What Exactly Is Empathy?

According to Dictionary.com, Empathy is:

the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

The word originates from the Greek word “empatheia”, meaning physical affection or passion.

PsychologyToday.com defines Empathy as:

the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from their point of view, rather than from your own. You try to imagine yourself in their place in order to understand what they are feeling or experiencing.

They go on to say that empathy facilitates prosocial (helping) behaviors that come from within, rather than being forced, so that we behave in a more compassionate manner.

In other words, empathy is when you’re able to put yourself in someone else’s position, both at an emotional and intellectual level.

Additionally, Empathy is one of the defining characteristics and foundational pieces of emotional intelligence.

True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain but also being moved to help relieve it — Daniel Goleman

Signs That Someone Lacks Empathy

Even though human beings are social creatures by nature, empathy doesn’t come naturally to all of us. Some people are more empathetic than others. In more extreme cases, some people suffer from Empathy Deficit Disorder (EDD).

As Douglas LaBier, Ph.D., a business psychologist, psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and the Director of the Center for Progressive Development in Washington, DC. said,

Empathy Deficit Disorder is a pervasive but overlooked condition. In fact, our increasingly polarized social and political culture of the past few years reveals that EDD is more severe than ever. It has profound consequences for the mental health of both individuals and society.

He explains that when you suffer EDD, you are unable to step outside yourself and tune in to what other people experience, especially those who feel, think and believe differently from yourself. That makes it a source of personal conflicts of communication breakdown in intimate relationships and of adversarial attitudes – including hatred – towards groups of people who differ in their beliefs, traditions or ways of life from your own.

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Here are some signs that will help you identify if someone around you lacks empathy:

  • They jump fast into criticizing others without putting themselves in other people’s shoes.
  • They seem to be cold or just out of touch for people that are suffering or are less fortunate.
  • They believe 100% in the rightness of their own ideas and/or beliefs, and judge anyone who does not hold their beliefs as wrong, ignorant or stupid.
  • They have trouble feeling happy for others.
  • They have trouble making or keeping friends.
  • They have trouble getting along with family members.
  • They feel entitled to receiving favors and use you to serve their needs without showing appreciation. They will even get offended if they don’t get their way.
  • In a group setting, they will talk a lot about themselves and their lives without really caring about what other people share.
  • They do or say something that hurts a friend or a loved one, and tend to blame his/her actions on them. They truly believe that the fault is in the person receiving the hurt because they reacted poorly, were rude or were oversensitive.

The truth is that without empathy, it is hard to create deep emotional connections with others.

Why Some People Lack Empathy

Empathy is an innate and a learned skill that is shaped by how we are wired when we are born, and our own environment and life experiences. To experience empathy to some extent, it means that we have to get in touch with our emotions.

People who lack empathy were probably raised in families who were avoiding to get in touch with their feelings and even condemned others for feeling their emotions. Some people have learned to shut down their feelings early in their lives to such a degree that they closed off their hearts and can’t even feel their own feelings – they certainly can’t relate or feel other people’s feelings.

As a result, these people end up lacking self-compassion, self-love and are disconnected from their authentic self and divine connection to source. They are probably not even aware that such disconnection is like a defense mechanism from their ego because if they empathize, they need to relate, get in touch with their feelings and feel the pain.

In most cases, developing and cultivating empathy is possible only if the individuals are willing to change how they relate with others, and consciously choose to retrain their brains. Due to our brain’s neuroplasticity, we can create new brain patterns.

However, there are other cases in which lack of empathy is associated to severe disorders such as narcissism, anti-social personality disorders, and psychopathy. In these cases, these individuals need to get professional help if they are open to it.

How to Deal with People Who Lack Empathy

I know how difficult it can be to deal with people who lack empathy when you are a sensitive and caring person. When you try to express your feelings, instead of compassion and understanding, you get anger or judgment back.

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It’s painful because sometimes we can get stuck in a vicious cycle where the more someone doesn’t understand you, the more you feel hurt, and the more you want them to understand your feelings. It’s almost as if you are pleading for validation.

Here’s the thing:

Most of the times, talking with these people will lead you nowhere, and will leave you feeling completely depleted.

Here are some easy-to-follow steps, so you can deal with people who lack empathy:

1. Don’t Take Their Anger or Judgments Personally

By doing this, you can get off the emotional roller coaster. It’s not about you. Remind yourself that they are the ones that have a problem connecting emotionally with others at a deeper level. There’s nothing wrong with you!

2. Don’t Try to Make Them Understand Your Feelings

Trying to instill empathy or insights in them is a waste of your time and energy. This will only increase their anger and judgement.

3. Talk About Facts with Them

Instead of talking to them about how you feel, or how something they did or said made you feel, talk about facts and what you think. It’s easier to communicate this way because they won’t feel blamed or shamed.

4. If You Don’t Live with This Person, Try to Distance Yourself from Their Company

You don’t have to end the friendship or stop visiting your family member, but you need to set some boundaries and be mindful of your interaction with them. Keep the connection superficial to avoid arguments and don’t expect depth and understanding.

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5. Cultivate or Nurture Relationships with People Who You Trust

Spend time with people who you trust and who make you feel safe so that you can feel comfortable sharing your inner world and your feelings with them. These are people who might have shown signs of empathy in the past.

6. Know That Your Value and Worth Does Not Depend on Their Validation and Opinion of You

Our self-worth should never be based on approval or validation from others. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you realize your true value: How to Build Self Esteem (A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power)

7. Take Loving Actions Towards Yourself

Offer yourself kindness and practice doing things that reflect self-love – eat healthy, get enough rest, pursue your dreams, work on yourself, develop a spiritual life, surround yourself with loving and positive people.

To give you more ideas, here’s a list of 50 Small Things You Can Do Every Day to Really Love Yourself

8. If You Feel Too Overwhelmed, Get Professional Help

Find a caring and compassionate therapist or life coach who can be there for you and offer guidance during painful times. Unfortunately, our friends and family can’t always provide all of the emotional support that we need at times.

If the person that you’re dealing with shows a willingness to be more open to change and become more empathetic and caring, then you have a real opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why some people lack empathy. Dealing with these people is not easy and may leave you feeling frustrated and disappointed. But with my advice, you’ll learn that you can’t change someone, however you can change your attitude towards them.

Remember that you can’t save everyone, but you can love yourself enough to not let people who lack empathy to overpower you. Set boundaries and do what makes you happy. Ultimately, don’t be afraid to get professional help when you are overwhelmed.

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Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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