Empathy – the ability to understand and empathize with another person’s emotional state – helps the world to survive despite all the difficult historical periods. Psychologists of the online platform “Tell me” have collected exercises that will help develop empathy, and vogue.ua publishes the best of them.
1. Deal with your own emotions.
To develop an empathic understanding of others, you must first deal with your emotions. To do this, you should pay attention to your own experiences: it will make it possible to understand that emotions can be described in other words than “good”, “bad” or “normal”. Emotional competence helps to understand oneself and promotes empathy.
2. Actively listen.
The development of empathy is also facilitated by the active listening of another person. But you should not listen “mechanically”, but really try to hear what the interlocutor is saying. One of the mechanisms of empathic support, which is often used in psychotherapy, is to retell words, repeat phrases and clarify what exactly a person feels.
3. “Stone face”.
Two people take part in this exercise. One talks about her experiences, shares a situation that evokes emotions in her, and the other has to completely block any emotional facial expressions. The experiment should last one minute, after which it is important to get feedback and find out how the person who spoke and did not feel empathy and the person with the “stone face” felt.
4. Look into the eyes for 4 minutes.
Arthur Aaron’s famous experiment, which is based on the idea that people have four minutes to look each other in the eye, showed that after the “silent interlocutors” are overwhelmed with emotion.
What to read?
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, Erich Maria Remarque’s Three Comrades, Daniel Keys’s Flowers for Algernon, these famous works help develop sensitivity, improve empathic perception, and demonstrate empathy as an integral part of real human beings.
What to see?
“Thoughts inside out” (2015) is a cartoon that tells in an easy way about understanding emotions and what they are.
“Inappropriate Man” (2006) is a film whose protagonist finds himself in a city where people do not experience emotions, are logical to each other and do not feel empathy.