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The Amazing Power of Empathy in Improving Your Life and Theirs

Empathy is the ability to put yourself into someone else's shoes...

The Amazing Power of Empathy in
Improving Your Life and Theirs

©2017 Health Realizations, Inc.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself into someone else's shoes - to understand them, to feel their pain, to take on their concerns, worries and regrets, as well as their joys, their elations and their excitement. As basic and elemental as this may sound, it's not an easy thing to do. But it is beneficial.

People (30K)Empathy is a key emotion sought after in leaders, in upper management, in spouses, in students, in children and in friends. It's been scientifically proven to promote "prosocial" behaviors (acts that help others, especially altruistic ones), contribute to "emotional intelligence," and educators are even pushing to instill it in grade school students. Why? Because empathy makes the world a better place, for you and for those around you.

Empathetic People are Good Thinkers

Studies have found that showing care and compassion for others fosters both creative and critical thinking. In fact, schools where students have participated in programs designed to encourage empathy tend to have higher scores on higher-order reading comprehension than schools that don't. Meanwhile, students that score well on measures of empathetic understanding are also more likely to have high grade-point averages.

According to Delores Gallo, a researcher who has studied the topic, 'The attributes which characterize empathy correlate with those of effective critical thinking and imagination."

One such attribute, role-taking, is even known to promote open-mindedness, discourage hasty examination of problems, encourage personal flexibility, and foster insight into different perspectives and problem-solving skills.

To be a Great Leader, You Must be Empathetic

Ever since psychologist Daniel Goleman, Ph D coined the term "emotional intelligence" (El) it has been taking the business world by storm. A key aspect of El is, you guessed it, empathy, and anyone who's ever had a boss knows how important it is to feel understood by him or her.

Students (23K)Not surprisingly, studies have found that corporations that have programs in El training experience improvements in productivity and profits. And, according to executive coaching firm Leadership Advantage, "Up to 90 percent of the difference between outstanding and average leaders is linked to emotional intelligence." Further:

  • Emotional intelligence is twice as important as IQ and technical expertise combined in terms of effective leading
  • El is four times as important when it comes to overall success

While the "emotional" side of things is usually not brought up in business settings, being able to understand others' emotions is essential in a good leader. Those without this empathetic ability risk losing their jobs, according to research by the Center for Creative Leadership.

They've found that the top causes of demotion in executives involve a lack of emotional competence, including poor interpersonal relations and not being able to work well as a team.

People with Empathy are More Likely to Forgive and Have Satisfying Relationships

The benefits of empathy do not end with leadership. People who are able to feel empathy for someone are also more likely to forgive them, and forgiveness is a key to leading a healthy and happy life from both physical and emotional perspectives.

Meanwhile, perhaps because of the tendency to forgive, studies have found that people who have empathetic personalities are more likely to report being satisfied in their long-term relationships. These people are also better able to show compassion and to see things from their partner's perspective.

Not Empathetic? Want to Be? Here’s How

If you find you are not naturally inclined to be empathetic, there's good news. Empathy is a quality that can be learned and, with a little persistence, even mastered. Following are some top tips to help you show more empathy:

  • Listen to others when they talk to you.
  • Imagine how you would feel if put into someone else's situation.
  • Use the Golden Rule: Treat others how you would want to be treated.
  • Help someone out with a task before they ask you to (this means you have to sense what they need help with).
  • Try to be understanding of other people's moods, opinions and beliefs.
  • Show compassion to others - even strangers - as much as possible.

Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory
Journal of Creative Behavior, v23 n2 p98-115

Dr. Soram Singh Khalsa, M.D.

Dr. Soram Khalsa is an internist in Beverly Hills, California and is affiliated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He specializes in Internal Medicine and Integrative Medicine combining diet, nutrition, acupuncture, herbs and nutrition.

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