Empathy in practice

Can empathy skills be taught? Can we learn how to develop an empathic capacity that engenders trust and build bonds?

People are born with general emotional intelligence that determines their potential for learning emotional competencies. Research show that if Emotional Intelligence (EQ) competence can be improved, then they are sustainable over a long period of time.

Actually, older people show higher levels of empathy, suggesting that empathy may be learned through life experience. The more situations you experience, the easier it will be for you to empathize with others and "put yourself in their shoes". So while IQ is ver much fixed, Emotional Intelligence can be improved with the right motivation. Here come some hints on how to do this:

Four steps to improve your empathy skills:

  1. Take time to recognize other people's emotions. Empathy is about caring, about sharing other people's feelings. Analyze other people's verbal cues and their body language. Try ti read between the lines: what is the person feeling? What do his words mean? The ability to understand can create a bond of trust, it can help understand the factors that trigger movements.
  2. See through the eyes of others. To do this you need to place yourself in their shoes. In order to do this, you could imagine yourself in the other persons's position. Now try to think how you might feel if you were them. Let them know that you understand their feelings. This ability will help create the connection. This foundation of trust will eventually lead to your success.
  3. Always think before you act, as understanding your emotions and managing them is very important in leading others and changing their minds. This ability is especially important for highly emotional events. So always pause and think before responding to any situation. Think of the reaction triggered by your response - will it lead to the desired results or not. Spend some time thinking about how you come across and take into account your non-verbal response.
  4. Use emotions to drive action : now that you are in other persons's shoes, you can help them make a decision. Provide the other person with an appropriate vision, communicate with them with empathy, use negative and positive feelings to make the changes required.

Not only will empathy boost your career perspective and help you achieve your goals, but it will also improve your relationships. Empathy skills can help businesspeople create bonds of trust and confidence with their partners and clients, which then enable them to communicate with their market on every level.


  • Adam Riccoboni and Daniel Calaghan, The Art of Selling Yourself
  • Goleman, Daniel, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Bloomsbury, 1995
  • J. Decety and Y. Moriguchi, 2007, journal of BioPsychoSocial Medicine

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