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Have you ever had someone who you would always run to with your problems? Who always seemed to be able to understand and be the pillar of support you needed? Well it’s time you learnt to be that friend to someone else too. Often times it can become all too easy for us to get absorbed in our own lives and turn a deaf ear to others. If you feel you need to start being less selfish, here’s how you can begin your empathetic journey.
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1. Labels Are For Jars
When you meet someone new the next time, try your hardest not to form an opinion about them. Regardless of their gender, race or economic background, try to learn about their personality first. When naturally empathetic people meet others for the first time, they approach them with a blank slate. They get to know the person inside instead of relying on ingrained stereotypes.
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A gift card is not really a gift. It’s a shorthand way of telling someone you don’t really know enough about their interests or care enough about them to make an effort. The best gifts you’ve ever received were probably from an empathetic friend. These people really make an effort to find out what makes you happy and then go all out when it comes to giving gifts. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Just put enough thought into a gift to show the other person you care.
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3. Get Out Of Your Glass Cabin
It’s hard to be empathetic when you don’t have a lot of experiences to fall back on. To be able to empathize with other people, you need to see what happens in the outside world. Go out for
a walk, really notice the people around you, especially usually ignored people like the homeless. Empathetic people are usually much more observant of their environment than an average person. Developing that quality will train you to spot when someone is upset or not their usual selves.
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4. Give Back
Volunteering is something you should be doing regardless of what you get in return. However, we will make excuses for you if what you gain is perspective. We can get so used to our quality of life that it might make it difficult for us to see what other people go through. Empathetic people are always looking for ways to give back to society. They’re usually the first ones to protest a wrong, to collect funds for relief and to organize pet adoption drives. Exposing yourself to other people’s realities will leave you better equipped to understand others.
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5. Listen. No Really Listen
Of times what we pass of as listening to another person is half-heartedly hearing them, while simultaneously drawing conclusions, making judgements and offering advice. This sort of analytical thinking is great for learning and performing in the workplace, but it makes you a terrible shoulder to cry on. The next time someone comes to you to air their problems, devote your full self to listening to them. Offer words of empathy but restrain yourself from offering judgement or advice until they specifically ask for it.
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6. Don’t Afraid To Be Vulnerable
No one’s going to want to open up to you if you don’t open up to them as well. A lot of us have issues when it comes to letting other people know about our personal life, but it’s time to let this fear go. Have you ever
met someone new who automatically made you feel comfortable by talking about their lives and asking questions about yours? Empathetic people genuinely want to talk to you instead of engaging in meaningless small talk, so they invest themselves in the exchange too. This doesn’t mean you should tell a complete stranger about how old you were when you stopped bed wetting. Just tell them a few details about your life and enquire about their own as well.
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7. Develop The Gift Of Imagination
For most of us, our power to imagine ended when we stopped being 10 and playing make believe in the backyard. However, if you want to be more empathetic as a person, it’s probably time you cultivated your imagination again. A strong imagination can help you understand the actions of others better. When you get into a disagreement with someone, you can try and see what could have been the possible motivations behind
what they did.