Friday, July 20, 2012

COACH TIP™- Empathy

Have you ever admitted to somebody how their inconsiderate actions or unkind words affected you, and instead of them chewing on and digesting what you revealed to them they instead quickly responded with a tit-for-tact reaction and lashed out? 
For example, lets say a friend says they will meet you at 9pm but does not show up at all, and when you confront them on the topic they rant and rave about how you should understand because you were late five times last year. 
Or when somebody says something rude to you about your appearance, your life, your family etc, and you express to them that you were offended by what they said, but instead of saying "Gee, I'm sorry, I was just trying to be honest, but perhaps you're right, maybe I could have picked a better way to express what I feel." they respond by saying "Well you say things all the time that I don't like, you're not perfect either you know." 
When this occurs in any relationship, whether it is with a parent, sibling, child, husband, wife, cousin, uncle, aunt, lover, friend, co-worker, pet, you name it, it is a clear indication that there is a hole in the fabric of the relationship and that some serious mending needs to take place in order for the connection to be restored. How does the mending start to take place? With empathy. Empathy is at the core of emotional and social intelligence and without it most relationships will deteriorate. 
The definition for Empathy in Wikipedia says:  Empathy is the capacity to recognize feelings that are being experienced by another sentient or semi-sentient (in fiction writing) being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy  before they are able to feel compassion. .  So you can see that without empathy any worthwhile relationship will become worthless, because if one person does not value the other persons feelings, then just like a bad apple, it can ruin a whole bunch. 
The next time somebody does not hear you out when you are speaking up, yet all they can do is 'stick-up' for themselves, ask yourself why they are unable to empathize with you. Perhaps nobody taught them how to feel for others, it could be that they are stuck in the cycle of tit-for-tat because they themselves have been treated with no empathy, in either case it is always clear that when somebody does not respond with empathy they lack what it takes to maintain a long lasting and loving relationship.
Ultimately, they will tail spin in life until they find that it is empathy that manifests the deepest connections. One day they will learn, just hope they put it into practice before things go bad and they lose everything that was good.   

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