“To love a person is to see all of their magic, and to remind them of it when they have forgotten.” – Anonymous
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. In certain circumstances, it is difficult to see things from another person’s point of view and consider what they’re thinking and feeling. For most people, deep empathy is a learned skill that requires active development to master.
This deep level of empathy is often helpful during emotionally charged situations and those with dire or serious consequences. Deep empathy helps you see a person’s good qualities and express love for them, even when you don’t particularly “like them” in that moment due to conflict.
The opportunity to express empathy is presented often with family members, medical staff, caregivers, and even the person you are caring for. To find out how well you practice empathy, take today’s fourteen-question quiz. It will help you determine how well you’re doing in this area.
Empathy—that quality of recognizing and understanding another person’s desires, beliefs, and emotions—is one of the most important skills we can ever acquire. It fosters meaningful relationships, reduces prejudice and negative assumptions, encourages honest communication, and can help avert violence.
Studies have found that people high in empathy are more confident, sensitive, and assertive, and they enjoy better physical and mental health. Often described as standing in another person’s shoes or looking through the other’s eyes, empathy connects us human-to-human.
Take this quiz to see how well you practice empathy.
Answer 1= Mostly True 2= Hardly True 3- Not True at All.
Record your answers and then add up your totals for each set of questions.
- If I don’t know enough to understand, and empathize with, another’s dilemma, I try to increase my knowledge by asking questions.
- I recognize and remember that others are different from me and might see and feel things differently from how I might experience the same situation. I try to look at the situation through that person’s eyes, not my own.
- I don’t need to be right about what I imagine the other person to be feeling. If I’ve misunderstood, I ask the person to help me correct my impressions. Doing so helps me learn more about the other.
- When I show that I understand the other person’s experience, I notice that the person I’m talking with opens up more.
- My irritation with another person often dwindles when I understand what’s going on inside him or her.
- Being a good, active listener helps me “get” what someone else is going through.
- I try to focus on the other person’s feelings, rather than on actions or circumstances. I know that when people are upset, it’s better to work through and handle their feelings before figuring out how to solve their problems.
- If a friend complains about a boss at work, I’m likely to advise that person to find another job, change departments or speak up. I like to be helpful by offering solutions.
- I’m always ready to offer a psychological analysis of my friends’ troubles.
- If a co-worker expresses anxiety about her relationship with her husband, I’m quick to reassure her that all couples have their little problems and that she shouldn’t worry about it.
- It seems that I always know better than my friends what’s behind or underneath their problems.
- When family members are upset about something, I find a way to distract them or change the subject.
- I’m quick to remind people that plenty of others are a lot worse off than they are.
- When empathizing with others, I imagine how I would feel in a given situation and assume the same would be true for them. We’re all basically the same, aren’t we?
True empathy can only occur when we have successfully shed all preconceived ideas and judgments about others—and when we’re comfortable with others’ deep feelings.
If your number is higher on the second set of questions than the first, you may benefit from learning more about how to respond with empathy, and how to really hear someone. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give another person.
Rayna Neises understands the joys and challenges that come from a season of caring. She helped care for both of her parents during their separate battles with Alzheimer’s over a thirty-year span. She is able to look back on those days now with no regrets – and she wishes the same for every woman caring for aging parents.
To help others through this challenging season of life, Rayna has written No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season, a book filled with her own heart-warming stories and practical suggestions for journeying through a caregiving season. Rayna is an ICF Associate Certified Coach with certifications in both Life and Leadership Coaching from the Professional Christian Coaching Institute.
She is prepared to help you through your own season of caring. Learn more at ASeasonOfCaring.com and connect with Rayna on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Read other articles by Rayna
Patience a Calm Acceptance
Caregiving for my dad was a special season in my life. It was filled with challenges, heartaches, laughter, joy and faith growing season in my life. Since you are still in your caring season you might not use these words to discribe your life right now, but I am...
Self-Care: Becoming Your Own Best Friend
Need someone to work extra days? Ask me. Someone who’ll clean up the place because we’ve scheduled an open house? Sure. I’ll even bring the cleaning supplies. Need someone to baby-sit your kids while you go away for a weekend? I’ll do it. Stay late? Cook extra?...
Are You a Good Listener?
Do you give the gift of listening? Need some tips on becoming a better listener. Real listening can be learned. Research and books such as The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships, by Michael Nichols, and Mortimer Adler’s How to...