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10 Things Highly Empathic People Don’t Do

10 Things Highly Empathic People Don’t Do

Empathy is the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another sentient or fictional being. In the Urban Dictionary, this translates to “I feel you.” Some people fake empathy, constantly responding to the problems of others with a flippant, “I know exactly what you’re going through,” without actually listening to what parts of the specific experience someone is focusing on. Learn to walk the fine line between empathetic and annoying with these habits highly empathic people don’t have.

1. They’re not closed off to strangers.

It’s so annoying when people are nice to their friends and mean to everyone else. If asshole is your default pose, you need to check yourself before you wiggity wreck yo self. People who act different in public than they do behind closed doors with friends seriously need to understand that you actually are the person you act like in public.

If you have a heroic side and choose not to use it, I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re not a hero—you’re a villain. You personally represent everything that’s wrong with this world. Learn about it.

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2. They disregard prejudices.

You can absolutely judge a book by its cover—in fact that’s exactly what covers are meticulously designed for. That advice was only relevant prior to the invention of the printing press. Accept that you are automatically judging people at all times, and recognize that they’re doing the same. Highly empathetic people recognize that anything is possible and, while they may naturally judge a book by its cover, they don’t let that prejudice deter them from finding commonalities.

3. They don’t discount other peoples’ experiences.

Congratulations, that previous act in itself is empathy. Now continue being empathetic by considering how the other person must feel based on who they believe themselves to be, not by whom you believe them to be. A person’s experience, education, and other factors form who they are, and you’d be wise to take that into account when interacting with them.

4. They avoid double-dutch listening.

There’s nothing more annoying that talking to someone who isn’t listening to you. We only comprehend a fraction of the information we receive. When you’re not even focusing, understanding goes way down. Instead of acting like a talking head in the media waiting for your chance to jump into a conversation to push your agenda, take a back seat and actually listen to the other person.

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5. They don’t flake.

Highly empathic people know what it feels like to be stood up, and they go out of their way not to do this to other people. If you’re the type of person who constantly double-books yourself and blows people off, understand they will just eventually stop inviting you. Nobody likes being left out, so stick to your word, or don’t speak.

6. They don’t leave you hanging.

No matter how prepared you are, life happens. Sometimes you have to be late or absent, and you can’t do anything about it. In these situations, a highly empathetic person will provide as much advanced notice as possible. If you have to flake, let people know.

7. They’re more lovers than fighters.

Highly empathetic people communicate—they’re interested in learning the other person’s point of view. Diplomacy is always preferred over violence. Nobody wants to be hit in the face, shot, or stabbed, and it takes a highly empathetic person to apply this to every real life interaction every day of their lives.

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8. They don’t fish for empathy.

Highly empathic people don’t show empathy expecting it in return. You see this all the time in business—customers tell their sob story in hopes of receiving some sort of special treatment. You may have a birthday, funeral, graduation, or some other life-altering event, but there are billions of people on the planet, and what you’re experiencing is no more or less important than anyone else. Shake off that tit-for-tat mentality before you end up forever alone.

9. They don’t mock failures.

Nobody likes to be insulted, but sometimes you may accidentally hurt someone else’s feelings. Be mindful of this and learn to be more encouraging. Just because you predicted someone’s failure doesn’t make you right—it actually makes you an asshole. If you find yourself trying to “prove” things to people so they’ll “see the light” and you can have your “I told you so” moment, you’re doing it wrong. Stop this immediately.

10. They’re not impatient.

Impatience stems from selfishness. Traffic moves slowly sometimes, food takes time to prepare, and nothing is instant. Instead of raging out at everyone, try to understand how the other person feels. The clerk or cashier you’re speaking to isn’t exactly happy to be there either, and they’re very much aware you want to be in and out, get value, etc. We get you’re in a hurry—everyone else is too, and you’re not that important. Sorry you had to find out this way.

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Empathy is a vital trait—it’s the basis of diplomacy, negotiation, and communication in general. Human beings are a hivemind, and communication is how we remain connected to each other and evolve. If you’re not empathetic, you need to be. Otherwise you’ll always remain behind those who are.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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