Relationships are an essential part of our lives. We have an innate need to connect with others, share our experiences with them, and feel understood by them.
However, in order to cultivate healthy and strong relationships, there are some qualities we need to develop. One of these qualities is empathy, and it is essential for connecting with others on a deeper level.
What Is Empathy?
Let’s start by understanding what empathy is.
Empathy is an essential skill you should develop in all your relationships. It can be defined as the ability to recognize, understand, and share the thoughts and feelings of another person. In other words, it means putting yourself in the other person’s shoes instead of judging things solely from your perspective.
Practicing empathy is essential in healthy relationships, as it shows others that they matter to you.
So, how can you cultivate this skill? Take a look at the tips below.
Practice Active Listening
Genuinely listening to what others say to you is the first step towards becoming more empathic.
Many people don’t really pay attention when someone else is talking. They are either thinking about something else or waiting for their turn to speak.
To truly connect with your partner, you need to practice active listening. That means making a conscious effort to pay attention not only to what the other person is saying but also to the complete message behind their words. Therefore, try not to get distracted during the conversation, make an effort to see things from the other person’s perspective, and ask them questions to better understand what they are trying to communicate.
Let’s say that your partner or friend opened up to you about a difficult situation they are going through. While listening to their story is a significant first step towards helping them, it is not enough. Most probably, their problem did not end once your conversation did.
Therefore, in the days following your discussion, it is important to show them that you care about their problem and that you support them. Doing this does not require an enormous effort from your side. Sometimes, it’s enough to just send them a text and ask about how they are feeling, or call them to let them know that you are there if they need help.
A simple gesture like this can make a huge difference in their lives, as it makes them feel loved and cared for. So, no matter how busy you are, take a few minutes to follow up with the people you care about and who has the courage to share their feelings with you.
When others share their problems or feelings with us, it is essential to have a non-judgmental attitude towards them.
While you might have the tendency to judge them based on your experience, try to put yourself in their shoes. Making an effort to see things from their perspective might change your opinion, and you might connect with them on a deeper level.
Keep in mind that when you judge others, you make them feel ashamed. If you truly want to help your friend or partner and develop a healthy relationship, withhold your judgment and just be there for them when they need you.
Be Present When Others Need You
Sometimes, the most valuable thing you can give others is your time. That’s why it’s vital to be there for the ones you care about when they need you.
Being there for them means not only sharing the good times but also the bad ones. When someone you care about is going tough a tough period, try to be supportive and give them your time and attention instead of telling them to move on.
Some of the worst things you could do are ignoring them when they are going through difficult periods or undermining the gravity of their situation.
While trying to be more empathic towards others, don’t forget about the most important relationship you have in your life—the relationship you have with yourself.
Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Pay attention to your feelings and acknowledge when you’re going through a tough period. Find out what you need to improve your well-being without being judgmental. And, most importantly, treat yourself the way you would treat a dear friend.
Doing this is important not only for your well-being but also for your relationship with others. If you cannot be compassionate with yourself, you would find it very difficult to be this way with others.
Empathy is a vital skill in all types of relationships. Learn how to develop this skill using the tips above and strengthen the emotional bond you have with your loved ones. Keep in mind that working towards building stronger and healthier relationships with the ones around you will significantly improve the quality of your life, so you should not neglect this aspect.
What other skills do you consider necessary for developing loving relationships? Let us know in the comments below!