Making Empathy your Way of Life

A young woman being comforted by a friend
Photo: © Liza Summer / Pexels

The difference between a popular and successful individual and an unpopular and unsuccessful person is the quality of empathy. Empathy refers to the ability to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. It is a sincere effort to understand exactly how it feels to be in the position of the other. It involves understanding the background, challenges, thoughts and emotions of the other persons to the maximum possible extent and letting them know that you are aware of their point of view. Putting aside one’s own viewpoints and being respectful and caring about the needs and feelings of others is at the very root of empathy.

Empathy is rated as one of the topmost skills essential for personal and professional success. In the place of study or work, empathy enables us to understand and therefore work better with classmates, colleagues or team members, leading to overall satisfaction and progress. It also enables us to become better leaders who can improve the functioning of organisations.

Developing empathy skills

Empathy may be classified into three categories: cognitive (logically comprehending the other’s situations and thoughts), emotional (accurately experiencing the other’s feelings and emotions) or compassionate (taking practical action to better the lot of the other). Compassionate empathy is the highest form of empathy. Here’s an example: Khwaja Moinuddin, Bhagat Reddy and Srinath Reddy, three friends from Hyderabad, quit their lucrative corporate jobs to start Nawab’s Kitchen, where they cook the choicest delicacies and feed over 200 orphans free of cost every day.

Cover of the February 2022 issue of The Teenager Today

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Dr Rositta Joseph is a Senior Editor with Orient BlackSwan India. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK) and Former Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh.

Dr Rositta Joseph

Dr Rositta Joseph is a Senior Editor with Orient BlackSwan India. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK) and Former Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh.