Why do I have selective empathy?

Empathy: How It Affects Your Success

empathy is a skill from the area of ​​social competence. Some associate them more with situations in which they behave quietly and inconspicuously, such as a bereavement. But empathy is much more than that. It covers a range of human moods that need to be captured as well as possible. In other words: the more you perceive in other people, the more appropriately you can react to them and the greater your empathy. What sounds like soft skills, has a real impact in life in hard facts ...

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Empathy Meaning: The gift of participating in the feelings of others

Like schadenfreude, empathy is one of the social emotions, that is, another person is always required.

One understands by empathy the ability to get into thoughts, feelings and Other people's viewpoints to put into it. There are numerous synonyms for empathy:

  • sympathy
  • antenna
  • empathy
  • Empathy
  • Empathy
  • Feeling
  • Sensitivity
  • Sure instinct
  • flair
  • heart
  • compassion
  • consideration
  • Tact
  • Tact
  • participation
  • understanding
  • Delicacy
  • sensitivity
  • sensitivity

As always with synonyms, there are a number of equivalents that we only in certain situations would use. Other terms like antenna or heart are very broad and colloquial.

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Empathy and Empathy: The Same?

Another word for empathy is empathy. In common parlance these terms are often equated with each other. Empathy is a term whose meaning is primarily shaped by psychology.

The definitions of empathy and empathy vary; some consider it less an emotion in the sense of “co-suffering”, but rather a reaction to the feeling of another person. Others distinguish between three forms of empathy:

  • Emotional empathy

    Here someone feels the same as another person, that is, someone has the appropriate sensitivity. An almost automatic reaction occurs through emotional contagion. An example of this are mothers, who can identify up to eight different types of crying in their infants and react accordingly. The emotional empathy is particularly suitable for creating trust in the other person and the basis for well-functioning relationships.

  • Cognitive empathy

    A person has the ability to empathize with the thoughts and intentions of others in addition to other people's feelings. This makes it possible to understand them and to draw appropriate conclusions from them. This is supported by the ability to perceive and decipher verbal, non-verbal and paraverbal communication such as body language. People with poor cognitive empathy lack an understanding of what their actions and words contribute to hurting others. Cognitive empathy ensures that we can better assess decisions and their consequences. This increases the sense of responsibility and a planned action.

  • Social empathy

    With this form of empathy, the entire culture, the underlying value system and character traits are included and thus enable appropriate handling. It is no longer just about individuals, but also about systems and organizations. Social empathy is important for team leaders, for example, when it comes to capturing the mood of their team and motivating them accordingly.

The importance of empathy in the world of work

It is undisputed that empathy for a comparatively Conflict-free cooperation is very important is. It helps to cope with tasks in different areas of life, whether in private life, in the hobby or in the professional life. It is not for nothing that the empathy of employees in sales and service is particularly encouraged.

A high one Empathy can be a competitive advantage, for example when product development or market research is about identifying customer needs and implementing them accordingly.

Questions like the following deal with so-called "painspotting", a creative problem-solving process based on empathy:

  • Why does someone complain and what about?
  • What is way too expensive?
  • What is difficult to obtain?
  • What would i improve?
  • How would I feel if I couldn't handle Product XY?

How does empathy work?

The basic requirement of empathy is self-perception: only those who have their own Recognizes and accepts emotions, is also open to other people's feelings.

A few years ago, research discovered what are known as mirror neurons. They become active when we observe our counterpart doing certain activities. In the viewer, they trigger a feeling as if he had performed the action himself. A classic example of this is when someone sits across from us and yawns:

Usually this is followed by a reflex that can hardly be suppressed on our part and we yawn as well. The greater the empathy of people, the more these mirror neurons are more active. Conversely, it was found that in types of people such as psychopaths, the brain region responsible for the mirror neurons remained silent.

The Franco-German neuroscientist Christian Keysers found out that they are quite capable To signal compassion. However - and here comes the exact distinction - it is just a reaction and not a feeling. You can suppress this emotion as needed.

That the majority of psychopaths are men doesn't seem to be a surprise either: Research has shown that men use empathy Use it much more selectively. Anyone who messes with a male colleague should therefore hope for little understanding if help is needed.

Women, on the other hand, seem to have greater empathy and not so much differentiated between friend and foe. This came to light in an experiment by the German neuroscientist Tania Singer.

Put yourself in the shoes of others: the right dosage

Those who want to learn more empathy are probably not in danger of developing the wrong dose of empathy. There is also a disadvantage, too much empathy. Those who almost dissolve with compassion, who cannot set themselves apart, harm themselves.

There are jobs where it is important to be delimit sufficiently to be able to. A healthy balance is particularly important in the field of psychotherapy. Because of course a therapist needs enough empathy to be able to empathize with the thoughts of his patient.

A lack of empathy “I can't understand, never had these problems” is not very helpful. At the same time, a professional distance must be maintained, if only for self-protection - psycho-hygiene to a certain extent. The same applies to doctors who sometimes carry out painful treatments. They know about their patient's pain, but they need to be able to do their job without suffering from it themselves.

Empathy test: are you empathetic?

If you want to know whether you can empathize with other people or whether there is still room for improvement, we recommend this article with a test:

Learning empathy: three tips

On the other hand, there are definitely areas in which empathy can be improved, because it is a success factor and depends largely with sympathy together. Because we then have a sympathetic effect on others - and the other way round on us too - when they recognize themselves in us.

It is the phenomenon of resonance that we ourselves partly unconsciously, partly consciously take advantage of. For example, we adopt certain behaviors such as gestures, facial expressions, but language, when we are sympathetic to someone. A typical example is smiling when people smile at us.

If you want someone to like you, you can use them in a targeted manner. Some perceive this as manipulation, especially since coaching for sales personnel is primarily a financial motivation.

On the other hand, encouraging better empathy is also beneficial for executives. In the end, this is somehow about financial motives, because a bad corporate culture has a negative effect on success.

On the other hand, nobody wants to be in one Environment with a bad working atmosphere work. Because a manager with empathy can communicate very differently than a boss without. Correspondence between what is said and body language is crucial for credible communication.

If you want to learn empathy, you need one fundamental readinessto get involved with other people. It depends on characteristics such as authenticity, appreciation, active listening and consideration.

Here three tipsthat you can easily integrate into your (professional) everyday life:

  • To listen

    In order to put yourself in someone's shoes, you need to know what is going on inside them. That means taking yourself back and giving your counterpart more space, taking time for your colleagues or employees and listening to them. This can only be conveyed honestly if during this time no calls are received, emails checked or at the same time leafed through in any documents.

  • Eye contact

    Eye contact is also part of empathy. It enables the other person to assess whether you mean business with them, whether they have your full attention and whether you are honest. You are demonstrating physical affection, which you should support with a nod.

  • reproduction

    For example, if your counterpart has talked about a conflict or problem, you should briefly state what you have heard in your own words. In addition, you should use questions to check whether you have understood everything correctly and correctly interpreted the feelings of your interlocutor, for example: "You are angry that ... / shocked that ... / disappointed that ...".

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