Empathy brings more understanding than analysis.
Please discuss. How does this play out in life?
I’ll start us out. Most of us are struggling in our COVID-altered, politically volatile world. Our loved one, friends, and coworkers face challenges too, but perhaps different than the ones we deal with. We’re also tired. The constant air of change and upheaval has us emotionally and mentally drained. It’s easier to try to apprehend what’s going on through facts and figures than by feeling all the feels.
Data yields clinical understand. Dissection of a corpse can tell us cause of death and may offer information about health conditions, diet, and lifestyle. It can’t reveal what made that person happy or sad, can’t spotlight their quirky sense of humor, can’t illustrate their usual though processes, can’t illuminate their motivations. Analysis can’t help us get what makes someone tick. Empathy can.
Today’s message reminds me that living beings have a need to be understood in their totality, not reduced to numbers, labels, and facts. If I’m talking with a friend who has COVID, asking them how many day’s they’ve been sick and what their treatment plan is will yield a different level of understanding than inquiring how they feel—physically, mentally, emotionally—and what they might need from me. When I’m willing to put myself in another’s shoes, particularly when their experience doesn’t seem relevant to me, I can begin to feel what they are going through.
How about you? How might more empathy improve your understanding of others?