5 Ways To Be More Empathetic

My last post, 6 Reasons Why Women Should Stop Apologizing For Their Feelings, got me thinking about ways to communicate with someone who does decide to communicate their feelings with us. How should we react so that they are not inclined to apologize to us. What can we do to help?

It got me thinking about empathy. When we share our feelings with someone or are on the receiving end, the key to a successful conversation is exercising empathy.

This term is not to be confused with sympathy. In our customer service training at work, we watched a simple three minute cartoon narrated by research professor, Dr.Brenè Brown, that explains the difference between empathy and sympathy. They are two very different things and understanding that difference will completely change the way we communicate.

Empathy Defined: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Sympathy Defined: feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

What Dr. Brown says at the very end of the video is that when she shares her feelings with someone, she’d prefer them to say, “I don’t even know what to say right now, I’m just so glad you told me.” She then goes on to say, “Because the truth is that rarely does a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.”

So how can we all get to the point where we can drive connection in these situations with our friends and loved ones? Here are five ways we can exercise empathy:

  1. Put ourselves in their shoes. We need to try not to respond with only our perspective of things. Everyone is unique and outlooks are naturally going to different. If we genuinely care about this person, why should we make them feel worse by pushing our views on them when they are the ones who are upset or feeling hurt. We can’t let our annoyance with the conversation, defensiveness or sympathetic mindset get in the way.
  2. Listen. We should let this person first, finish what they have to say without interruption. Remember that he or she is the one who is upset here. We should also be listening to understand, not listening to respond. Avoiding defensive reactions will make the conversation go much smoother. Ears open, mouth closed.
  3. Pay attention to non-verbal cues. Is this person fidgety and appear to be nervous? Do they have tears in their eyes? Are they fearfully avoiding eye contact? Pay attention to these cues to determine their temperament and mood. If we don’t show empathy, we could make them even more upset and we don’t want that, especially if we care for them.
  4. Hold back judgement. We shouldn’t make fun or belittle someone’s feelings and emotions. Remember tip one. We wouldn’t want someone to do that to us so let’s show the respect that we would want if we were in their shoes.
  5. Ask them what they need from us. Someone is coming to us for a reason. Either something we did bothered them or they may even just be venting about something unrelated us. Use the statement Dr. Brown suggested, “I don’t even know what to say right now, I’m just so glad you told me,” and follow up with, “What can I do to help?” Again, a response rarely makes someone feel better but offering to be there for them may just do the trick.

My purpose of this post is to encourage myself and others to be the support system that the people in our lives need. We should allow them to be vulnerable with us and try to understand that it took them courage to approach us and open up. We shouldn’t give them even more fear by lacking the empathy and support they deserve.

audrey
Photo via WeHeartIt

-D.O. ❤

 

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6 Reasons Why Women Should Stop Apologizing For Their Feelings

sorry

I am noticing in my own life, as well as in the lives of other women around me, that we tend to apologize too much for our feelings. Whether it’s with co-workers, significant others, friends or family; we as a gender are so quick to say “sorry” when someone doesn’t react well to what we have to say.

A study done the by the University of Waterloo in Ontario found that women actually have a lower threshold for what qualifies as “offensive behavior”. Should we raise this threshold when it comes to this subject? I say, yes! It’s time that we stop asking for forgiveness, start standing firm in what we feel and demand the respect that we deserve.

When we’re in this this situation, I urge us to remember these six reasons why we should bite our tongues and suppress our yearn to express regret for speaking up.

  1. Once our feelings have been rejected, we may feel as though we are being oversensitive. One might even tell us that we are being too sensitive. We’re not. Our feelings are important and if someone in our lives dismisses them, that is not our fault. We should try our hardest not to let this rejection make us feel bad about ourselves. Continue to speak up.
  2. Remember that feelings are uncontrollable. We don’t get to choose the way we feel, as much as I wish we could. If we do not express them out of fear, we’re not being true to ourselves.
  3. If we do choose to hold our hurt or bruised feelings in too long, we may cause an even bigger problem by blowing up and communicating them in a completely incorrect way. At this point, we would be in the wrong and should apologize for not communicating our feelings effectively. It’s much better for both parties to put out small flames as opposed to one huge wildfire.
  4. Sharing our feelings shows people what we will and will not put up with. I’m not saying to aggressively demand a certain kind of treatment from others. Merely informing someone that their words or actions hurt or bothered us could prevent them from doing the same thing in the future. No one can read minds. They will not know unless you tell them.
  5. Are we even genuinely sorry or are we just afraid that we pissed them off? This is something I personally need to ask myself.
  6. Telling someone how we feel, simply, just is not something we should apologize for. We’re not intentionally wronging anyone by doing this. The fact that we are sharing these feelings shows effort to want to make this friendship or relationship work. It shows that we want to clear the air and work through a potential issue and I don’t see any harm in that.

I do want to mention that I am not encouraging anyone to nitpick others unapologetically. While this may not be a conflict, we still have to use the “pick your battles” mentality. Take time to yourself and if something is really weighing on your heart and mind, speak with that person. If they dismiss you, do not apologize. Give them some space. Hopefully, they will realize that you meant no harm and reach out to you to repair things.

We shouldn’t belittle ourselves and minimize our feelings to please others.

-D.O. ❤

 

 

Dear Ghosters: You Suck! 👻

Just call me the Ghostbuster! I ain’t afraid of no ghosts! 😛

Ghosting defined by The Skimm: “The word for that guy you met on Bumble, went on three dates with, and never heard from again. A new study says that almost all millennials are guilty of this kind of thing. Swipe right, date, disappear. Repeat.”

Sounds pretty shitty, right? That’s because it is.

Disclaimer: I will not apologize for being so harsh.

I am married and won’t have to ever deal with this, hopefully, but I know people who have. This recently happened to my boss, someone who deserves the absolute best. It pains me to hear my friends vent about someone they like falling off the face of the earth. It’s just a dick move and I’ll tell you why.

You’re acting like a coward

SCARED

You decided to ghost because you’re not brave enough to give someone honesty or deal with confrontation. You find that it is easier for you to just ignore someone completely. You stopped answering their phone calls and ignore their texts. You may have even gone as far as blocking them on social media and/or blocking their phone number. You’re treating them as if they’re some kind of stalker when really, he or she is a normal human being who is interested in you and you’re just too scared to tell them, “sorry, feelings are not mutual”. Grow a pair, contact them back and tell them you are not interested.

You just don’t care

SHRUG

Maybe you’re not a coward, maybe you just dgaf! This is even worse than being scared because it’s not fear that’s stopping you from properly ending the relationship, it’s total disregard for someone else’s feelings. You just don’t care to tell them because you, my friend, are selfish. You decided that you were not interested and are moving forward with your life without giving them the equal opportunity to do so themselves. You left them wondering, “WTF happened,” while you chill and live a carefree life. Uh uh, not cool!

It insinuates there’s something wrong with them

iNSECURE

When you disappear on someone, it could cause one to feel as though they are the problem. They start to rethink every interaction to see where they went wrong. They think about everything they said and did. “Did I come on too strong?” “Was I not enough?” “Am I not attractive enough?’ “Was it because I snort when I laugh?” Legit, people will think about every little thing they did and over-analyze it. Yes, this is something they need to work on within themselves but don’t add to their insecurity.

You may not feel as though there’s anything wrong with them, you’re just not feeling a connection and that’s fine. Giving that explanation right there could stop someone’s mind from running wild with self-doubt. If you care anything about other human beings at all, be decent to the ones you come in contact with, especially if you dated them, even more if they’ve given their body to you, you jerk! *Over-the-top eye roll*

You’re not creative enough to think of a lie

cant lie

Ok, so 99% of the time, I’m completely against lying. Do not lie! However, if you’re deciding between ghosting and lying, you lie! Let’s say you’ve been seeing someone and it’s not that serious. Your ex, whom you love, comes back into the picture and you choose to pursue that again and make it work. If you’re scared to tell the new person that this is happening, lie! Tell them you’re not ready for a relationship. Tell them you want to enjoy single life. Hell, tell them you’re thinking about moving far away and don’t want to complicate things. Tell them anything you think sounds good, if you want to save face. Use your noggin, get your creative juices flowing.

If you cannot do this, it shows a lack of resourcefulness and/or lack of effort. Regardless of what the truth is, at least you ended it and they’re not wondering where the hell you went and what the hell happened.

Bottom line is;

  • Know when you can ghost and when you cannot. Apparently, sometimes, it’s “acceptable”. GQ has a complete guide here.
  • While you may not have a connection with someone, think about their feelings before you ghost, you selfish POS 😉 .
  • Don’t be a dick! 😛

-D.O. ❤