By definition, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, and it seems to be on everyone’s mind these days. From business leaders to front-line salespeople, from medical doctors to school officials, everyone is trying to become more empathetic to better serve their community.
Highly empathetic people know they are different from the people around them. They are highly sensitive and overly emotional beings that feel what other people feel. While they thrive on the loving and positive feelings, they are unable to escape feeling negative emotions that can be somewhat daunting. Feeling so deeply makes it difficult to adjust to new situations and forces the empathetic person to proceed slowly when meeting new people or taking on new projects.
Empaths can sometimes feel as if they are cursed, but being in tune with the energy of the world is a blessing. Sure it’s difficult to live in the world where the majority of people are less sensitive, but there are many good things to being an empath.
Dr. Judith Orloff, the best-selling author of Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life, says, “Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually attuned, and good listeners. If you want heart, empaths have got it. Through thick and thin, they’re there for you, world-class nurturers.”
HERE ARE 6 THINGS THAT MAKE AN EMPATH UNIQUE
1. THEY LOOK AT THE WORLD WITH WONDER AND CURIOSITY.
Empathetic people are learners by nature. They maintain their sense of wonder and curiosity from childhood that most of us grow out of when we become adults. They are naturally inquisitive and ask questions without judgment purely to learn and feel the experiences of others.
2. THEY ACT ON THEIR STRONG INTUITION.
While most of us may pay attention to our feelings of intuition, we often require more information before we know what to do with them. That’s not the case for an empathetic person. They not only pay attention to their intuition, but will take action solely based on it. They know their intuition is their inner guide and will not lead them astray.
3. THEY CAN PUT THEMSELVES IN SOMEONE ELSE’S SHOES.
It is easy for an empathetic person to put themselves in other people’s shoes because they can feel what they feel. This connection to feelings makes an empathetic person someone who makes decisions carefully and thoughtfully, knowing the impact it will have on the people around them.
4. THEY MANAGE THEIR ENVIRONMENT.
Being highly intuitive and sensitive to the world around them, an empathetic person creates their environment to support this heightened awareness. They are selective in the work they do, the commitments they agree to take on and the people they allow into their inner circle.
5. THEY ARE FULLY PRESENT.
Empathetic people can see and understand things beyond what is on the surface. This ability paired with their natural curiosity keeps them in the present moment. They feel it’s their obligation to learn, and share what they learn from their observations with the people that will benefit. This sense of duty keeps them tuned into what is happening around them at any given time.
6. THEY INSPIRE OTHERS.
Empathetic people are inspiring. They commit to the things they believe in, and that belief becomes contagious to the people around them. They feel the need to take up the causes that address human inequalities because they feel their pain. In doing so, they are fully capable of leading a movement.
Here is an amazing quote by Anthon St. Maarten:
“Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate. It is not the empath who is broken; it is a society that has become dysfunctional and emotionally disabled. There is no shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those who are at times described as being a ‘hot mess’ or having ‘too many issues’ are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more caring, humane world. Never be ashamed to let your tears shine a light in this world.”
Empathy is an important skill today and plays a role in all aspects of life, including business. Many people believe feelings and emotions don’t belong in the workplace, but the contrary seems to be true. The Center for Creatively Leadership conducted a study that revealed that empathy can contribute to positive job performance. So it seems any business would benefit from inviting empathic people into their offices.
Everyone is born with natural empathy, but somehow loses it as they grow. That doesn’t mean we have to live the rest of our lives without it. Empathy is something we can develop and foster within ourselves. One of the best ways to do that is to become curious about the world. Ask questions, be interested, commit to learning and start to form new connections that will develop the empathetic person within.