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How to Be More Empathetic & 16 Steps to Make Anyone Feel Understood

Learning how to be empathetic is important for everyone. Empathy helps us connect with others. Learn how to be more empathetic with these tips.

how to be more empathetic

When you speak to someone, you only get half of the story. In fact most of the time, you don’t get the real story at all. You see, someone can say “I’m fine”, but most of the time, they’re lying. The only way to understand the truth and be able to connect and help those around you is to learn how to be empathetic.

By doing that, you’re literally imagining what it’s like to be in their shoes. The good news? Learning how to be more empathetic isn’t that hard.

Far too many people aren’t concerned with really connecting with others. But, isn’t that a life wasted?

We’re supposed to have friendships, relationships, and general connections with people – it’s what makes life so wonderful. If you want to do that, you need to show people that you not only hear them, but understand them too.

Speaking to an empathetic person is a very deep and wonderful experience that leaves you feeling loved and understood. You’ll find your relationships are enriched massively by simply taking the time to learn how to be more empathetic from the get-go.

[Read: How to develop empathy and master the art of growing a real heart]

What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand someone’s experiences and feelings. It means you put your own feelings aside and you tune into theirs. You’re walking a mile in their shoes. That helps you to connect with them because you know how they feel; you understand their feelings.

You might have heard of the term ’empath,’ but it’s important to know that you’re not necessarily an empath if you’re empathetic.

An empath is a spiritual occurrence when someone is able to absorb the emotions of another person and take them on as their own. So, if an empath stands next to someone at the bus stop who is feeling particularly angry, they’re likely to start feeling angry themselves for no actual reason.

By developing empathy, you’re not going to end up in this situation. You’re just going to become more sensitive to the feelings of others around you. [Read: 7 reasons why empathy is important in a relationship]

Why is it good to learn how to be more empathetic?

Learning to be empathetic takes time but it has many benefits.

1. Enhances your communication skills

When you’re naturally empathetic, you will notice that your communication skills increase. You’re able to speak to people more deeply and have conversations that actually lead somewhere other than the superficial.

Of course, increased communication quality is ideal in many situations, including work, but also in your relationships. [Read: How to communicate in a relationship – 16 steps to a better love]

2. Develops your relationships with other people

When you show people that you care by understanding how they feel, they’re going to feel closer to you.

Being empathetic will improve your relationships ten-fold and it will allow you to connect with people you haven’t met before too.

3. Helps you to build connections with new people

Showing empathy is key to building new social connections. That means you’re meeting more people and expanding your social circle.

When you help people, they will also help you in return. All of this is beneficial. [Read: How to make new friends as an adult – 15 ways to do it right]

4. Feeling connected to other people helps your wellbeing

When you feel connected to people around you, you feel more supported and it helps your general health and wellbeing.

You’ll feel happier in general and this will help to lower your chances of developing anxiety and depression.

5. The ability to help others

When you really understand how someone feels, you’re able to help them. That’s never a bad thing. Being able to help others means that you’re in a position to make them happy and do a good deed.

You should never do good deeds with the expectation of another given back to you, but it’s a likely outcome. This will also boost your relationships too. [Read: How to help someone up when they’re feeling down and depressed]

How to become more empathetic

If you really want to understand your partner and the people around you, you need to learn how to fuel empathy.

Fortunately, we’ve identified some methods to do so below. Know that you almost certainly already have empathy inside of you, you just need to encourage and coax it to come out a little more.

1. The first step toward learning how to be empathetic is overcoming your own fears

From potential emotional wounds, heartbreaks, misunderstandings, and especially overcoming your fear of being left, you must confront your fears. Start with yourself and never stop.

Instead of thinking, “No one will ever understand me. I’m going to die alone,” shift your attention toward what you can do to improve. As you envision yourself being fearless, your mind will naturally move in that direction. [Read: Afraid of catching feelings? How to face your fears and overcome it]

2. You have to put in extra effort to understand yourself

How are you going to understand others if you don’t understand yourself? Reading about your zodiac sign is definitely not sufficient.

Reflection means being curious about yourself and not egotistical, and being prepared to give up narcissism and megalomania. Understanding yourself means accepting your strengths and weaknesses unconditionally. [Try: How self-respect affects you and your relationship]

3. Start to recognize your own emotions

In this step, you move from introspection to inspection. Empathy is a shortcut to understanding. It means understanding through emotions. It is less about asking questions, and more about listening to and feeling out the emotions of others.

Mutual respect and understanding are such rare gifts that if you are able to achieve them, you should hold on as tightly as you can.

To do this, you need to start becoming more aware of your own emotions and recognize them. Give them a name, a label. When you become more aware of your general emotions, you’ll spot them in other people too. [Read: How to control your emotions and become the pinnacle of restraint]

4. Take a walk in someone else’s shoes when learning how to be more empathetic

Being empathetic means entering someone’s world and spending time in it like you are in your own home. It includes continual sensitivity to outbursts of feelings your partner might have, such as fear, anger, vulnerability, and confusion.

It requires you to walk in someone’s shoes. How? By listening!

Far too often we think we’re listening when we’re zoned out. Or we hear what we want to hear and ignore the subtle signs others are dropping in a conversation.

Instead of assuming what you want to beleive, focus on what they’re saying and really pay attention to them. Ask questions and be sensitive to what they’re telling you. [Read: The 12 qualities of a healthy relationship that keeps couples happy]

5. Dig deeper, rather than taking everything at face value

When your partner expresses emotions or shows signs of being upset, don’t take the first thing they say or do at face value.

Instead, try to understand why they might be feeling or reacting that way. Communicate. Once you have gained a better understanding of their behavior, ask them questions to determine the root of the problem.

You should also read their body language. All too often, people tell you they’re fine when they’re not. If they’re showing signs that go against their words, you need to read it. If they’re crossing their arms over their body, they may be feeling defensive. If they’re avoiding eye contact or fidgeting, they may be lying. Start becoming more observant of body language and you’ll be able to read it more easily. [Read: 18 emotional affair signs you probably didn’t notice]

6. Focus on the emotional component of what your partner is trying to say to you

Whatever the content of your conversation might be, don’t neglect it, and pay special attention to the energy your lover is emitting.

Asking, “How do you feel?” is more important than comprehending every facet of the situation. In addition to their body language, pay attention to their posture and tone of voice. Be hypersensitive to everything and piece the jigsaw together.

7. Identify the full spectrum of your partner’s feelings

Sometimes, people do not articulate what they feel. Noticing gestures, the look in their eyes, pauses in speech, etc., helps you detect if there is something latent a person is not willing to talk about.

If you are really interested in understanding them, go for it and ask. This way, you are telling your partner, “I am listening to you, and I really want to understand you.” In doing this, you make it easier for them to disclose their feelings. [Read: 14 ways on how to be a better listener in a relationship]

8. Point out polarized emotions when learning how to be more empathetic

Those who are ashamed tend to be quiet about their own contradictions. One minute, they may say they are struggling with something and, the next minute, they negate that they ever admitted such a thing. You are the one who needs to indicate that.

Maybe they are just confused and you can unwind the knot they got wrapped up in. [Read: How to get someone to open up so you can really connect with them]

9. Summarize your partner’s communication

When your partner speaks, summarize their communication to let them know you not only heard what they said, but understand it.

Repeat back what you understood from what they told you.

Avoid trying to give your advice if it’s not been asked for, and don’t try to fill in gaps when you don’t have that information to hand. Stick to what they’ve said and you’ll show them that you were listening. That way, you’ll encourage them to open up and say more.

10. Focus on current feelings and use present tense

Even if their rollercoaster of emotions is projected way into the future, or is focusing on the past, relate it to the present. By doing so, you help them navigate their own emotions, and offer a strong shoulder of support.

Sometimes, we jump backward and forward and we forget that we’re living in the here and now.

By using the present tense, you’re reminding them of where they are and helping them to snap out of a funk they probably don’t need to be in. [Read: How to tell how your partner feels and learn to read their mind]

11. Sometimes, a beautiful act of empathy means leaving someone alone

Put their needs first. Even though you want to be close and offer help, it might be counterproductive if your partner needs space.

Temporary isolation can be beneficial for both partners. It is another step toward intimacy because you are demonstrating your ability to put your own wants and needs to understand them, on the backburner. But, make sure that they know you’re there for them at any time. [Read: How to give space in a relationship without drifting apart]

Learning how to be empathetic takes time

Know that learning how to be more empathetic takes a little time. It’s not going to click into place overnight. But, the more you practice how to be empathetic and understanding, the more you’ll notice progress. You’ll be able to read people a little more clearly and you’ll notice that your relationships are improved greatly as a result.

Give it time and keep practicing. The art of learning how to be more empathetic is never in vain.

[Next, read: How to emotionally connect with anyone – 14 little steps to get anyone talking]

In developing empathy and emotional connections, we help our partners and friends, and create a more thorough understanding of human emotions. Fostering this skill will empower your romantic, friendly, and familial relationships, and will connect you fully to the world around you.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...