Empathy in communication: manifestation, types and mechanism of development

Table of contents:

Empathy in communication: manifestation, types and mechanism of development
Empathy in communication: manifestation, types and mechanism of development

What is empathy, its manifestation and development mechanism. How can empathy be shown for another person? A moral assessment of such a feeling. The content of the article:

  • What is empathy
  • What is it for
  • Development mechanism
  • Main types
  • Is it possible to learn
  • How to develop a sense of empathy

Empathy in communication is the ability to sympathize with your neighbor, empathize with his emotional state together, perfectly understanding why this happened to him in order to try to help in an extremely unpleasant, difficult situation for him. A person who is not indifferent to someone else's psycho-emotional state is called an empath.

What is empathy?

Empath girl sympathizes with her friend's problems

Empathy is the ability of a person to sympathize with others, entering their position, realizing that the neighbor is in a difficult situation. Sigmund Freud was one of the first to speak about such a state: "We take into account the patient's mental state, put ourselves in this state and try to understand it, comparing it with our own."

Experts believe that this feeling depends on the activity of neurons in the brain. The assumption that the manifestation of empathy is influenced by mirror neurons was expressed by Italian scientists from the University of Parma at the end of the last century. Simply put, such an emotion as sympathy depends on the emotional, psychophysical state of the one who empathizes, tries to get into the position of his neighbor, understands his torment and suffering.

Not everyone is capable of experiencing such a feeling, this is emphasized by such a psychological characteristic of a person as alexithymia. This is when a person cannot really define his emotions in relation to others. Let's say a person knows that a neighbor is prone to theft, leaving him alone in the house is dangerous, he will definitely pull something away, but treats this indifferently. He is completely indifferent, it does not cause any emotions. Such people usually find it difficult to even describe their own emotions.

This poverty of feelings is inherent in some by nature. Sensual "feeble-mindedness" prevents one from showing empathy towards others. In this case, it should be said that the feeling of empathy is not developed.

Speech, gestures, actions, facial expressions speak of mood. As a completely natural reaction to the manifestation of the partner's emotional emotions, empathic feelings are manifested. Empathy is not associated with any particular emotion (let's say compassion). In its meaning, this concept is much broader, they denote empathy associated with different emotional states.

Unfortunately, quite a common incident in life: the family got into a car accident. For example, a child survived, but his parents died. Not only relatives, but also absolutely strangers sympathize with the child, empathize with him with his grief.

Or such an example. The man has problems in his family, he has become nervous and rude. A friend does not turn away from a friend, understands his condition, sincerely sympathizes and tries to support.

In these two cases, various emotional states are described that caused a feeling of empathy - empathy. She characterizes the person as highly moral and humane, her spiritual and spiritual qualities determine the ideals of goodness, duty and a sense of responsibility.

Psychologists consider empathy to be a normal emotional state. Empathy manifests itself in different ways for different people. Someone will simply politely respond to the partner's problems (light emotional response), while others will take them to heart, plunge into the world of his experiences and together with him will look for a way out of this situation.

An empath is believed to be aware that his feelings reflect the state of the person he empathizes with. If this is not the case, we should not talk about empathy, but about identification (identification). And these are completely different things. Empathy for a partner does not mean complete merging with his feelings of your emotions. Otherwise, there will be no understanding of why this happened to him, there will be no difference between his and his state, which will not help solve the problem that caused such an emotional state.

Physicians understand empathy in communication a little differently than psychologists. For them, it is of practical importance. The doctor listens to the patient, tries to comprehend his speech, gestures, emotions. This process is called "empathic listening" in psychology. During the "listening", the physician is aware of the patient's experiences, which makes it possible to objectively assess his condition.

To measure the level of empathy, there are special questionnaires. Empathy Quotient (EQ) was developed by English psychologists Simon Baron-Cohen and Sally Whewright. The Russian-language version in V. Kosonogov's translation is called “The Level of Empathy”.

It's important to know! Empathy for a doctor is a skill that makes it possible to collect information about a patient about his thoughts and feelings, which will prompt an effective course of treatment in the future.

What is empathy for?

Helping an elderly woman

Empathy is compassion, empathy with loved ones and even complete strangers. A typical example of empathy is helping a complete stranger. For example, a person needs an urgent operation, but there is no money, there is no one to hope for, only support from the outside. He advertises in the media that money is needed for the treatment. Such a cry for help finds a response in the hearts of caring people. They collect the required amount, doctors save a person from certain death.

Such examples are not isolated. And this is a manifestation of empathy, when someone else's misfortune is perceived and experienced by a stranger as if it were his own. Goodwill helps in communication, the person is soft-spoken towards people, they do not shout that the one who has stumbled should be severely punished. A society where there are many such individuals can be called humane. For it is said: "Do not dig a hole for your neighbor, you yourself will fall into it."

Friendliness and good nature are characteristic features of empathic individuals. They are tuned in to mutual understanding, it is easy to communicate with them, they are completely trusted. This sets up a friendly relationship.

People with a low level of empathy are callous at heart. They live by the adage that "I don't know anything, my hut is on the edge." Someone else's misfortune leaves them indifferent. They turn their backs on people who need help. Living next to such people is to constantly feel uncomfortable in a relationship.

The sense of empathy is especially developed in creative people. Let's say a person who doesn't have a sense of empathy never becomes an actor. Such a person is not aware of the experiences of another, and therefore he will not be able to feel the character of his hero in order to truly embody him on stage. And a writer will not create a convincing book if he does not delve into the image of the person he is writing about.

Note! An empath is not an unprincipled kind person. This is a person with humanistic ideals who believes in the dictum that "kindness will save the world."

Empathy development mechanism

Friends calm a man down

The mechanism of empathy should be considered in the context of two successive stages. At the first stage, carefully peering into the speech, facial expressions, emotions of his counterpart, there is a "getting used" into his image. The empath seems to be taking his place, trying to understand his thoughts and feelings. On the second, the partner's experiences are analyzed, which helps to find a way out of this emotional state. Let's consider the development of empathy at each stage in more detail.

Living in the image

To understand what a partner is feeling, you need to "adjust" to his mood, try to think and feel in the same way as he does. To do this, you need to copy his speech, facial expressions and movements.The empathic personality acts as if in the role of an actor who seeks to capture the characteristic features of his hero in order to then vividly display them on the stage.

For an empath, this “getting into personality” helps to better understand the emotions of a person who needs help. In fact, he is trying to take his place, only in this case help (in word and deed) will be effective. Otherwise, what's the use of empathy?

Analysis of experiences

At this stage, a detailed study of the emotional state of your partner takes place. Why does he act in such a way that pushes him to such a step, what can be done in this situation to provide him with effective assistance?

For example, a person gets angry, cuts off his friend in mid-sentence, and all because he does not succeed in his plans. The friend does not withdraw, but sympathizes, understands what makes the friend angry, and does not prevent him from doing his job. As a result, the work was done, and the friendship was preserved.

People with the same type of character and similar behavior easily contact, make acquaintances with each other. Among such personalities, there is a high percentage of empathy in relationships, they treat each other with warmth and are always ready to respond to someone else's misfortune.

With age, empathic ability, which can be called the spiritual and moral quality of a person, is more developed. This is due to life experience, those who have seen a lot in their lifetime know how to be sensitive to the experiences of others. Such people are responsive, it is always comfortable to communicate with them.

However, not all have high empathy; quite a few individuals with a low empathy threshold. Such deaf to the feelings of others, often do not understand their loved ones. They are said to be evil, insensitive people. They do not like them and try to avoid them.

An overdeveloped sense of empathy is the other extreme. Such people are empathically dependent. Their mood depends on the emotional state of those around them. There is nothing good about it. Such personalities are not independent, the behavior of those around them puts pressure on their psyche and forces them to adjust - to sing to someone else's tune.

Empathy is the cornerstone of a humanistic personality, which is characterized by such qualities as humanity, respect for a different view, attention to the life of another person.

What are the main types of empathy?

Empathy for the grief of a friend

Psychologists distinguish three types of empathy: emotional, cognitive and predicative. Empathy and empathy are considered as a special form. Let's take a closer look at all these types of empathy:

  • Emotional empathy… When all the emotions of the other are recognized and accepted as their own. A person experiences them in himself, although he understands that this is not his state. He empathizes with his neighbor, wants to help him get out of a difficult life crisis, for example, accompanied by a surge of negative emotions. This is true for people with a strong sense of compassion. If emotional empathy is not developed, for example, it is not given by nature or by virtue of age, such people will never enter the position of another person. They are deaf to other people's problems and troubles.
  • Cognitive empathy (cognitive)… The empath “turns on” his intellectual abilities. He not only takes the suffering of his neighbor to heart, but seeks to understand his mental state: why this happened to him. Without such a "reasonable" experience of the feelings of another person, there is practically no way to help him. There will be only chaotic attempts to provide assistance that will not be effective.
  • Predictive empathy (predictions)… Includes emotional and cognitive empathy. Only by feeling the emotions of another person in your soul and realizing why this is happening to him, you can confidently predict his behavior in certain circumstances. This is a high level of empathy that only a few can manifest and can be called a gift from God.People with a developed empathic feeling help others in difficult situations, they believe, they inspire hope even in the most lost souls.
  • Empathy… Such a humane feeling is not typical for everyone. Only a person who knows how to experience third-party emotions as his own is able to enter someone else's position and provide real help to the sufferer. It is the highest form of humanity in human relationships.
  • Sympathy… An important component of social empathy. People live in a certain social environment, experience and sympathize with each other. In a developed society, a sense of solidarity and support is essential. Without them, humane relationships between people are impossible. A person is worried, sympathy is expressed to him. This is the guarantee of the progress of human life.

It's important to know! Empathy is given to a person by nature; it will not work to teach you to empathize with your neighbor from a textbook. This natural state of mind can only be developed.

Can you learn to empathize and empathize?

Girl helps to calm down the boy

Empathy can be innate when the child has not been taught to empathize. He himself sympathizes, for example, with a sick cat or a chick that has fallen out of the nest. The intuition inherent in sensations from nature helps here. If you do well to another, it will return good to you. The little person feels it and looks at the world kindly. This is not given to everyone.

Most children learn empathy from their parents. If they see that father and mother are caring for each other, speak warmly of others, this affects the formation of their feelings. Children absorb friendly relations in the family from childhood.

Of no small importance is the relation to animals. It's not bad if the family has a cat or, say, a guinea pig. The child learns to care for them, feeds, takes care of his wards. This influences the formation of a good attitude towards our smaller brothers. And the guarantee that the baby will not grow up a soulless, cruel person.

Having planted a tree with his parents, the kid understands that he has done a good deed. And this is the feeling of empathy for all living things. Taking care of, say, flowers as an example, a child learns beautiful things. Empathy without developing a sense of beauty is impossible.

It's important to know! Empathy develops in childhood in communication with parents and the natural world.

How to develop a sense of empathy in communication?

Psychological training in empathy

Not all people are empaths. However, this does not mean that they will remain so for life. Empathy manifests itself with age, in the process of life a person encounters various unpleasant situations in his life, learns to overcome them, relatives and friends help him in this.

This is how the understanding comes that the help of others helps to feel not rejected in society, when you share your problem with others, it is easier to overcome it. Life experience accumulated over the years develops a sense of empathy, a person who was helped in life, for example, by completely unfamiliar people, learns to empathize with others.

Empathy can be learned with the help of special psychological trainings. First, a person must learn to understand his thoughts, deeds and actions. For example, the exercise "be aware of yourself here and now" will help bring your feelings and consciousness into harmony with the world around you.

To do this, you need to come to terms with your feelings. You need to treat them openly and friendly, trying to understand why they have captured you at the moment. It is necessary to accept the world as it really is, and not be indignant about its imperfection. All actions must be done consciously, and not under the influx of emotions, when manipulation of your opinion is possible.

Only when there is a conscious picture of their behavior, the person will be able to enter into the position of others, to understand their emotional state, why in this situation they act this way.

Special group exercises will help you figure out how a person is feeling now. The psychologist offers training "Guess the feeling".Each participant is invited to portray a specific emotion through gestures, facial expressions and voices. Others guess it.

Very effective exercise "Mirror and Monkey"… One depicts a monkey grimacing in front of a mirror. "Mirror" copies gestures, realizing what feelings are hidden behind them. The participants then switch roles. This is how you get used to the emotions of others and realize what the other person can feel in this case.

Another interesting exercise "Telephone"… Someone emotionally portrays a conversation on a mobile phone, for example, with a wife or boss. Others have to guess who he is talking to so sensually.

There are many psychological trainings for the development of empathy. All of them are aimed at better understanding the thoughts, feelings and experiences of another person. To do this, you just need to "get into" his "skin". When the interlocutor understands his counterpart, only then can he quite consciously empathize with him.

Empathy is a positive personality trait. She plays a leading role in relationships between people, makes them friendly and benevolent. What is empathy in communication - watch the video:

Empathy is a kind feeling towards people. But in order to treat them well, you need to learn to love yourself. Those who value their “I” understand that the other person is also worthy of respect and attention. An empathic person is pleasant in communication, they easily converge with such, they are considered reliable. Individuals who do not know how to sympathize - angry and heartless, as a rule, have no friends. If you have communication problems, it is worth considering, do you know how to empathize? Learn to sympathize with your neighbor, and he will smile at you!

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