Empathy is one of the most useful social skills. Empathetic people know how to manage many different interpersonal situations. In fact, people love to be surrounded by empathetic people, because it makes everything easier.
Becoming familiar with the characteristics of highly empathetic people is very useful, whether you want to learn how to be more empathetic yourself, or seek out highly empathetic friends. Discover the habits of highly empathetic people and decide who you want to be and who you want to be with.
What are Highly Empathetic People (HEP) like?
Being empathetic and highly empathetic are not the same thing. The latter has more personal emotional risks associated with it, but it’s more rare and a quality that many great leaders have.
1 – Highly empathetic people challenge biases
We all have assumptions about others and use collective labels that keep us from appreciating their individuality. Highly empathetic people challenge their own preconceived notions and prejudices and commit themselves to finding things they have in common with other people, instead of focusing on their differences.
2 – They cultivate curiosity about strangers
Highly empathetic people have an insatiable curiosity about other people. They’ll talk to the person next to them on the bus or in the waiting room at the dentist, or in basically any situation.
Curiosity breeds empathy for people that are outside of one’s social circle. This allows empathetic people to discover worldviews that are different from their own.
Curiosity is good for people. Martin Seligman identifies curiosity as a key way to improve life satisfaction. He also says that it’s a useful cure for chronic loneliness, which affects many people.
Cultivating curiosity requires more than a brief chat about the weather. Fundamentally, it’s about understanding the world inside the other person’s head. Challenge yourself by trying to have a conversation with a stranger each week. All you need is courage.
3 – They put themselves in others’ shoes
Highly empathetic people utilize experiential empathy. Experiential empathy involves putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, in order to directly experience the life of another person.
4 – They listen and open themselves up
Empathetic conversationalists have mastered the art of listening, and open themselves up to others. Highly empathetic people do this to the extreme.
They listen with intention and attention towards other people and do everything possible to understand others’ state of mind and emotional needs. But listening alone is not sufficient. They take it one step further, removing their masks and revealing their feelings to others, which is vital for the creation of a strong empathic link.
5 – They inspire action and social change
People generally assume that empathy occurs only on the individual level, but highly empathetic people understand that empathy can also involve groups of people, and as such can provoke fundamental social change.