Word Of the Week #529: Empathy

September 25, 2014 by  

Empathy understanding and identifying with another person’s situation, feelings, thoughts, etc.

Is it easy or hard for you to show emotion? How good are you at recognizing emotions in others? Did you know that the 90% or more of an emotional message is nonverbal?

In Daniel Goleman’s book on Emotional Intelligence he identifies 5 key qualities needed. I have covered 3 of them in several of the past WOW’s. They are self-awareness, self-management and self-motivation. Today I will cover the 4th and that is the ability to recognize emotions in others.

He writes, “Empathy builds on self-awareness; the more open we are to our own emotions, the more skilled we will be in a empathyreading feelings. People who have no idea what they feel themselves, are at a complete loss when it comes to knowing what anyone else around them is feeling. For all rapport, the root of caring, stems from emotional attunement, from the capacity for empathy.

The key to intuiting another’s feelings is in the ability to read nonverbal channels: tone of voice, gesture, facial expression, and the like. In tests with over 7,000 people the benefits of being able to read feelings from nonverbal cues included being better adjusted emotionally, more popular, more outgoing, and – perhaps not surprisingly – more sensitive. In general, women are better than men at this kind of empathy.

The roots of morality are to be found in empathy, since it is empathizing with – someone in pain, danger, or deprivation, say – and so sharing their distress that moves people to act to help them. By putting oneself in another’s place, leads people to follow certain moral principles.

This week’s focus is on empathy. Would you like to be more popular? How comfortable are you with showing your emotions? How good are you at reading other people’s feelings? How about identifying with another person’s situation?

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