Article written by: María Julieta Balart Gritti, Managing Partner of Ágama Consulting and Learning, SL
Empathy is the ability to understand the needs, feelings and problems of others, putting yourself in their place and thus being able to respond correctly to their emotional reactions. According to the model, the emotional competence of empathy is achieved when we combine active listening at the intellectual level, understanding at the emotional level and assertiveness at the behavioral level. Who is empathic develops the intellectual capacity to experience the way the other person feels, which makes it easier for them to understand why their behavior
and empowers you to maintain a dialogue with the other with a positive interaction style for both, respecting what each one thinks and feels and seeking mutually beneficial agreements. For this reason, empathetic people tend to have more social success, since empathy facilitates interpersonal relationships, negotiation, the ability to persuade and the development of charisma.
Active listening is listening carefully to what the other says with their verbal and non-verbal communication, with their gaze, tone of voice, posture, etc. In order for true active listening to take place, it is necessary to be in a state of full or conscious attention, which allows us to clearly notice the stimuli that come to us from the outside. Conscious attention is about the listener focusing exclusively on the other person for a certain time, that is, what is called "stopping the mind", not thinking about anything, just being focused on what the other is saying, taking interest in everything that is heard and observed without judging it. Through judgment, our mind classifies, chooses, rejects, approves and disapproves and does so with its own scales or parameters which have been built since childhood as a result of education, personality, experience, etc. By judging, without being aware of it, we "disconnect" from what the other says, we stop listening to him, we go from being focused on external dialogue to connect with "our internal dialogue" (thoughts, feelings, values, expectations, etc. ) moving us away from the possibility of being empathic. Active listening is an intellectual act, just like thinking, judging, guessing, or any other act performed by the mind. And even if we believe otherwise, two simultaneous intellectual acts cannot be performed well with awareness. Paying full attention requires considerable physical and mental effort to avoid the distractions of other stimuli. It can be trained and in this way we will be emotionally more predisposed to understand the other.
Understanding is the attitude that comes from paying full attention and involves being open to exploring the other's world to understand their fundamental feelings and needs. Understanding is seeing the acts and feelings of others "naturally", without judgment or condemnation, but with the conviction that any of us can fall into the same. People who have been emotionally nurtured in childhood, because they have been accepted, cared for and loved, have more capacity to understand others, because they are less afraid that if they do, they will give up on themselves. Understanding does not imply having sympathy or antipathy for the other, but simply understanding without judging. In addition, having understanding is applying compassion plus action, which leads us to propose, suggest or establish the means that help others to overcome the state they are currently experiencing. Understanding does not mean agreeing with the other, nor does it imply setting aside one's own convictions and assuming that of the other as one's own. Moreover, you can be in complete disagreement with someone without ceasing to be empathetic and respect their position, accepting their own motivations as legitimate. But to be able to do this without fear, it is important to also develop the competence of assertiveness.
As the important thing is not so much to understand the same, but to do it with the different and to be able to empathize with him without giving up oneself, it is also necessary to develop the
assertiveness. Assertiveness is a word that comes from the Latin "asertum" which means to clarify, affirm and implies having the ability to express or transmit what you want, think,
feel or need, without bothering, attacking or hurting the feelings of the other person. It is to value both one's own perspective and that of the other, without feeling threatened by the difference, but reinforced by the conviction that, although the other is understood, one's own position is also defended and an alternative that benefits everyone is sought from respect. both or harm as little as possible. For this reason, in this model, assertiveness is preceded by understanding, which makes it easier for us to be more prepared to respect those who are different and to be able to read their needs in a more adequate way.
of the different and empathize with him, and based on this, be able to readjust our actions to achieve mutual benefit from sincerity and respect.
Empathy is a tool to connect with others, because it leads us to empathize with sympathy, which means looking for the win/win in the relationship with the other with real interest through active listening, knowing what the map with the one who explores the world and through understanding, understanding and respecting why he chooses the routes he chooses to walk through life. If we do so, our own map expands, we incorporate new landscapes, we learn new routes and by having a broader map, we walk safer and happier through life because we choose the shortest and best paths, those that make us arrive sooner. to our perfect destination: self-realization. )