How to practise empathy

As human beings, we are naturally wired to be empathetic. We want to communicate with our fellow human beings, and we want to connect. Empathy is defined as the ability to recognise and understand the feelings of others. It is an incredible boost to the mental health of adults and children.


But how do we become aware of and practise something as nebulous as empathy? Here are a few practical tips to increase your ability to empathise with others on a daily basis:

Ask yourself a few questions

How quickly do I rush to judgement when confronted with a person or problem that I am uncomfortable with?

  • Do I rush to judgement when confronted with failures or mistakes made by myself?
  • How do I react when confronted with the failure or mistakes made by others?
  • What does empathy really mean to me?

By answering these questions, you are creating a foundation for awareness of a) judgement and b) empathy. You become aware of how easily you tend towards judgement and how difficult it can be to truly empathise with others.

Practise understanding instead of judging. It’s easy for any of us to rush to judgement when confronted with a person or feeling that is uncomfortable in any way. Instead of letting the critical voice in your head take over when you or a person you know slips up, listen for the voice of understanding. The voice of understanding immediately asks questions about the situation—maybe he/she is just having a bad day? Maybe this indeed is not the end of the world? The voice of understanding takes a panoramic view of the problem instead of focusing on the selfish effects.

Listen for that voice every day.