Sometimes I can’t stand to watch a Michael Cera movie, like Juno, because his juvenile awkwardness is just so uncomfortable. Thinking about it, though, I realize that I’m uncomfortable because I can relate so much to the situations that he gets caught in. I’m empathizing with him and can feel the anxiety that awkwardness causes in the situation– almost enough to make me to want to turn off the movie. It’s funny – empathy can be the cause of stress, but it’s also the way we make a connection with others. By being aware of our own empathy, we can use it to connect to others and take advantage of the situation for the better.
I said, “Hey guys, I don’t think it’s your intention, but your arguing is causing us a lot of tension. What can we do about this?”
Recognizing how other people are feeling, and identifying with those feelings allows us to take action in a way that will positively affect our status. You can become the hero of conversation. You can make someone’s day. You can even stop something that’s negatively affecting the emotions of others. Empathy is a tool that we can use with strategy and intuition to benefit us. You may not be the best at empathizing, but you can learn. What kind of situations have you been in where you could empathize with someone else, and what could you have done to help?