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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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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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