As an educator and design thinking practitioner, we always talk and emphasize the importance of Empathy. However, do everyone knows what empathy is. I want to kickstart the discussion with these scenarios.
Did you experience the following situation before?
“I am really hungry. Are you? What you wanna eat?” “NOOO, I just finished my lunch, I am full”
“Can you turn off the aircon? the office is too cold!” “NOOO, I just finished exercise outside, still sweating!”
“OMG! I’m in the period, why you don’t know how painful I am?!” “NO, I know it baby, I know you are very pain” “NOOO, you don’t!”
Put yourself in somebody’s shoes.
These situations are very, very common. But it also shows what Empathy is and why we need empathy. It’s because everyone is different in terms of our situation, gender, or even our age. We are different even when you finished your lunch, but I eat nothing. The difference is everywhere. You can never find someone who is the same as yourself.
Like a saying, “Put yourself in somebody’s shoes.” I tried to search in the wiki, and it tells:
(figurative) To try to look at a situation from a different perspective, as if one were the other person, to empathize. If you could just put yourself in his shoes for a moment, perhaps you would understand why it is not as easy as you seem to think.
It is a traditional way when we talk about empathy. So, Empathy is the ability to look at a situation from a different point of view? Does it mean that how great you can feel like others’ feeling?
I will say, NO!
Empathy is awareness.
Instead of saying it is an ability, I believe that it is awareness. The awareness of you know nothing about others feeling.
It is common to say that “I had experienced it before, so I know what you feel.” For example, when you just broke up with your girlfriend, your brother may tell you, “Don’t be sad! I know your feeling. I had been broken up with someone before!” However, does he feels what you feel? Is it the same thing?
Usually, we judge others by our experience/feeling. If you are talkative, you think it is easy to do a presentation in the classroom. In contrast, for Introvert people, it is the most challenging thing in their life.
Therefore, Empathy is not an ability to know others feeling. It is an awareness to remind yourself that actually you know nothing and that’s the reason why you should always share what you feel and ask others what they feel.
It is the key to Empathy.
We are born self-centered.
Yes, I believe, and scientists proved.
“People prioritize themselves in their minds,” said senior author Tobias Egner, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience. “The question is, how automatic is that prioritization? Is this something that you can’t help? If so, that could really bias how you make decisions.”
It is not a negative thing, and it is natural as everyone is their own story’s main character.
We should be educated and remain ourselves the awareness of differences, which is Empathy.
That’s why it is crucial.