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4 Key Ways to Exercise Greater Empathy

Most of us believe in the first impression. It is such a natural instinct to have some kind of perception about another at a single glance. Perhaps, it is unavoidable to an extent. However, we often take judgment too far. We can easily see the victims of judgmental behavior all around us. Yet, most of us still can’t let go of such habit or don’t even realize that we are doing it.

The irony is that most of us judge others on the basis of mistakes that we have made ourselves in the past. We never let anybody else have the benefit of the doubt or a chance to change like we granted ourselves. Even bigger irony is people judging others in behaviors they are still prone to themselves.

The way to get out of this negative mode is to practice empathy. For this, we should first understand the true meaning of empathy. There is a common misconception where people overlap sympathy with empathy.

Sympathy is the act of showing compassion; sorrow in most cases. On the other hand, empathy is the ability to understand and share the same feelings. In simpler words, it is like being in the same shoes as another. This is why empathy eliminates judgment. It lets you understand another person’s actions or dilemma because you have experienced the same or you can imagine yourself in the same situation if you will.

Encouraging the Habit of Empathy

It is not easy to overcome old habits. Although, with a bit of effort and being vigilant of your thoughts and actions, there is nothing stopping you from being empathetic.

Here is how you can practice more empathy towards others in your life:

Avoid Assumptions

We should start by eliminating ill-informed assumptions about another human being. One way to accomplish this attitude is by acknowledging that the other person is doing their best. Remember that one person’s best can vary from another. Two people can have been in the same situation but circumstances leading to or surrounding it could be different.


Don’t listen to people to respond. Listen to understand. If people come to you with a certain opinion or problem, let your mind open towards why someone why someone holds that opinion or fallen to that problem. In opinions, you have a right to disagree but not to impose. In problems, you are more likely to provide a better solution with an empathetic behavior.

Practice Tolerance

One problem that leads to judgmental attitudes is the lack of acceptance and tolerance. Majority of people will be different from you. It can be a natural reaction to run away from what is not understandable. Therefore, it is important to know what makes someone different. It is okay if you don’t agree. But you can practice tolerance to coexist. You never know you might end up learning more; leading to acceptance.

Empathy can require you to let go of rigidity. You might have to change your approach to looking at things to understand the other side.

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