Whether it’s your partner, parent, coworker or employee, being empathetic transforms every relationship. But because we often confuse empathy with weakness, we underestimate this crucial skill. In fact, we do little, if anything, to cultivate empathy. But when you train yourself to be more empathetic, you can radically improve your relationships.
What is empathy?
Before you can train yourself to be more empathetic, we have to first know what empathy is.
According to Michael Ventura, a successful CEO and Eastern medicine practitioner, “Empathy is a skill for perspective taking. It’s when you learn to get out of your own bias enough to see the wold from other perspectives and ultimately gain a deeper understanding that can inform your actions.”
Empathy creates meaningful connections and Ventura has seen how it improves other leaders and their companies, including Elon Musk, New Balance and Delta Airlines.
How to become more empathetic
Everyone has the ability to be more empathetic. It might not come naturally at first, but it’s a skill we can all practice and master.
Here are two ways to train yourself to be empathetic:
When you listen to someone, you pay attention both to what they’re saying and to your own inner biases. You allow them to express themselves without any judgment. This helps you see the situation from another perspective.
We only see the world through our own lenses. But Ventura recommends taking time every day to try and see the world through another person’s perspective. “Once you learn to do that,” he says, “you can drop into that state more often and use that as a tool for cultivating understanding.”