Six habits of highly empathic people
Tremendous amount of research has been done about empathy in recent years. These range from understanding empathy, knowing why it is important and ways to develop a higher level of empathy. Empathy is the ability to experience, feel and view things as the other person does. It is different from sympathy or pity, which is judgmental. It is a highly refined skill which requires an understanding that everyone is different and involves an appreciation of that uniqueness.
Roman Krznaric is the bestselling writer of the book “Empathy: Why It Matters and How to Get It?“. He has also written “Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution“. Roman Krznaric is the founder of The School of Life. A popular writer and speaker, he believes that empathy is at the core of who we are as human beings. What is special about his approach is that he says empathy is the “ultimate form of art” and that it can be used as a tool for social revolution. In other words, a highly empathetic society is needed to fundamentally change how we view our issues and solutions.
In this video, he outlines, 6 qualities of highly empathic people or, as Roman Krznaric calls them ”Empathic adventurers” people who step outside rigid norms of society to embrace an alternate point of view:
1) Curiosity about strangers
Empathic people are very curious about others. They ask questions, they understand, they find out more. They do this with an open mind, with a spirit of enquiry. The questioning is not interrogative but to build a common and shared understanding, resulting in a foundation for bonding.
2) Discovering commonalities about diverse cultures and societies
Empathic people focus on what is common and not what is different about others. They focus on the essence of being human. All the differences seem to be on the outside and the similarities are on the inside. Another important aspect of this habit is becoming aware of and eventually giving up biases.
3) Living another person’s life
Not stopping at intelectual curiosity, Krznaric encourages empathic adventurers to actually live other people’s lives. The understanding and sharing of experience does not exist at an intellectual level but is deeper, at the level of actually feeling the feelings, going through the highs and lows. Nothing deepens understanding than this, and it is where the seeds for fundamental change are sown.
4) Practicing listening at the highest level
Active listening, without judgment, is an extremely rare skill in a world everyone is in a hurry to make their point and influence others. It is also a two-way street that requires sharing and opening up. Being vulnerable and sharing frailties and failings openly. This leads to acceptance and change.
5) Inspiring social change
Highly empathic people use empathy as a tool for social change and revolution. This happens by becoming empathic with neglected sections of society, developing a deep understanding of their state, knowing the state of people who are strugglers and outliers and resulting in bringing adversaries together. This also requires teaching empathy to young children so that we are building a more humane and understanding society.
6) Being ambitiously imaginative
This habit is about taking action, based on a bolder vision. It means embracing points of view that we do not subscribe to and developing an understanding with an enquiring, open, accepting mind. Then seeing the merit in those views and based on a strong imagination for a better world, taking action.