How can someone learn to be more empathetic?
Understanding that empathy involves both the head and the heart, or both analyzing and sympathizing, is the key for developing greater empathy.
“That is to understand that empathy involves both your head and your heart. We get those two confused sometimes when we try to enter another person’s world. If we just love with our heart, that’s sympathy. If we just love with our head, that’s analyzing. We analyze or sympathize. To do both, it’s like two wings of an airplane. If you want empathy to take off, you’ve got to use both your head and your heart. You’ve got to analyze as well as sympathize. Sure, you can feel that feeling, but then step back and be objective and go, hey, I’m not that person. I don’t want to just project my feelings onto them. Let me step back and seriously ask the question, how would I be if I were in their shoes? But then clarify that with them, ‘Is this how you're feeling?’ It goes back to communication. When we do that, that’s when empathy takes flight. That’s when we really begin to see things.”
Les Parrott, PhD
Center for Relationship Development
Dr. Les Parrott is a psychologist and #1 New York Times bestselling author. He and his wife, Dr. Leslie Parrott, are co-founders of the Center for Relationship Development in Seattle. Their books have sold more than 3 million copies and include: Love Talk, Your Time-Starved Marriage, Crazy Good Sex, The Good Fight, and the award-winning Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts.
Les and Leslie are founders of the game-changing online tool for couples: DeepLoveAssessment.com. Les has been featured in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. He has appeared on a variety of television programs including: CNN, The Today Show, GMA, The View, and Oprah. Visit LesAndLeslie.com.