That person at that moment was not being very empathetic. They may not have intentionally meant to respond that way. Sometimes when people are tired or stressed they have a tendency to show less empathy then when calm or rested.
But, even so empathy can make or break the relationships in our lives. In both personal and professional relationships.
"Empathy is our ability to identify what someone else is thinking or feeling, and to respond to their thoughts or feelings with an appropriate emotion." "...the hallmark of a compassionate and civilized society is that we try to understand other people's actions, we don't simply condemn them." This was written by psychologist Simon Baron - Cohen.
One of the most important benefits of empathy is that it can improve all the relationships in your life - at work or at home.
In romantic relationships research has proven that being able to understand your partners emotions will deepen the intimacy and satisfaction you both share. Empathic work environments promote greater happiness and an environment where everyone feels heard. It reduces conflict. Because one of the most common reasons that a person can become angry is that they do not feel that they are being heard and understood. It helps lower miscommunications.
The more you can empathize, the more feedback you receive from the other person on what they are hearing from you as well. "Whenever someone is heard, they find more willingness to hear another." Miki Kashtan.
When you practice empathy you will see many benefits for both yourself and the person you are taking the time to understand and assist. Helping them helps yourself. You will be able to effectively convince others to see your point of view. You will be able to motivate the people around you. Have less trouble dealing with conflict. Empathy also reduces bullying.
As a listener:
You will feel good about giving someone the opportunity to talk about what matters to them. You can feel joy when they share a happy experience. You will feel that you are heard and understood by the other person because you took the time to listen and understand them.
For the talker:
They experience relief from the distress they are going through. It helps them see a way to go in a decision - so ends conflict. They feel less alone with a problem (this is why support groups are helpful). They feel relief 'bouncing' their ideas off of someone who listens to them without being critical or overwhelming them with advice. It helps obtain relief from stress oriented health problems such as asthma, insomnia and headaches.
When someone let's you know that they care about your wellbeing, it gives you the strength and the confidence to believe "I can accomplish this, I can care for myself."
At first when you display empathy the other person might be surprised and confused because they didn't expect you to listen. So initially it can cause suspicion. But when empathy is sustained and you show that you are genuine, it becomes difficult for the person being heard not to appreciate your concern. So empathy leads to trust and mutual understanding.
There are 5 steps to practice compassionate empathy.
1. Don't Be Distracted.
Cultivate being 'here and now' when having a conversation with someone. 'Be present' in the situation and not distracted by where you could be, what you could be doing, or what message in your phone you might be missing.
2. Listen Actively.
Active listening is hearing what the other person is saying as if you were hearing it for the first time. And not applying any preconceived notions, thoughts or beliefs to the conversation. Repeat what the person is saying (by paraphrasing) back to them and clarify with questions you might have.
3. Walk In The Other Persons Shoes.
Take 2-3 minutes to imagine what the other person is going through. How they feel. What they are experiencing. Only by putting yourself in someone else's shoes can you develop empathy.
4. Taking Action. (This is important)
This shows that you really are committed to making a difference in people's lives. Either do something that takes the burden off of the other person's shoulders when they have enough to deal with. Or, offer 2-3 options of what you could do to help and then let them choose what works best for them. Then take action on it.
5. Take Care Of Yourself.
Take time every day or week for yourself to rejuvenate yourself and recharge your batteries.
Until next Sunday my friends, Be Well.