Adam Lanza the gunman who caused such carnage in Newtown Connecticut was a loner. It was difficult for people to show him empathy and difficult for him to receive it. But that is what he needed most from the ordinary people around him.
While changing the gun laws will restrict access to these lethal weapons and may reduce the number of incidents of shootings in America, changing the way we show empathy is a more sustainable way to change the hearts and minds of others and make the world a safe and peaceful place.
When someone empathises with you they give you a sense that they see and appreciate your inner being. Empathy reassures you that the other person understands your inner workings at least somewhat, particularly your intentions and emotions. Human beings are social animals who need to feel felt. It is empathy this provides for this need. Empathy is respectful and soothing and usually evokes goodwill in return. Empathy is neither agreement nor approval. You can empathise with someone you wish would act differently. Empathy is accepting that the other person has a need to feel felt and accepted for who they are.
In customer service situations and difficult conversations with work colleagues or clients showing empathy will make a big difference to the way you do business. Difficult people need someone to truly listen to them. You don’t have to agree with the content of what they say but you do need to recognise that they are upset.
First posted by John Faisandier on 18th December, 2012