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I’ve had some difficult conversations recently, which have gotten me thinking that I could have better relationships if I were more empathetic.

You should be more empathetic. I’ve bet you’ve heard that. With all that is going on in the world, more empathy is just what we need.

But it might not be the kind of empathy that comes to mind because there are different forms of understanding others.

Daniel Goleman, the author of the book Social Intelligence, identifies three types of empathy.

  1. Cognitive empathy – knowing what someone is thinking and how they might be feeling.
  2. Emotional empathy – when you physically feel the same emotions as someone else.
  3. Compassionate empathy – knowing what someone is going through, sharing their emotions, and being motivated to help them.

I’m noticing that the first type of empathy requires that I be socially attuned and present for others, while the second requires that I be conscious of my own body and feelings.

Compassionate empathy requires more commitment. Not only do I need to be present for and aware of myself, but I must also find ways to help.

Maybe you can relate? I see that I’ve been too busy. My schedule has been packed with deadlines and challenging work.

If I were to create more space and time, I’d be able to see the requests that are being made of me as opportunities to help, instead of as burdens.

There is no “right” or “wrong” type of empathy. Ultimately, we choose to be empathetic or not. And we decide which form is appropriate for the relationship.

Is there a relationship in your life that could benefit from you being more empathetic?

Go Answer the Call

Matt

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