Having an empathetic attitude is more than a state of mind, it’s a way of being that really allows us to connect and relate well with others. The greatest danger we face is our general assumption that we really understand people and that we can quickly judge and categorize them. Instead, we must assume that we are ignorant and that we have natural biases that will result in judging people incorrectly. The people around us present a mask that serves their purpose of surviving in our hyperconnected social world but has kept us from being vulnerable. Act as if each person you meet is like an undiscovered country, with a very particular psychological chemistry that will be carefully explored. This flexible open spirit is similar to creative energy—a willingness to consider more possibilities and options. In fact, developing your empathy will also improve your creative powers.
- Don’t mistake the mask for reality.
- Let go of your tendency to make unconscious snap judgments when observing others.
- See people in a new light and do not assume that you are similar or that they share your values.
- Consider first the circumstances that might have made a person make a mistake or what it is they did, giving them the benefit of the doubt just like you tend to attribute mistakes or circumstances that pushed you into doing it, known as attribution bias. Rather than seeing other’s mistakes as a character flaw/something that flowed from their imperfect personality. As part of this attitude, you must give people the same level of indulgence you give yourself.
- Adopting this attitude depends on the quality of self-love. If you feel superior to others, or controlled by insecurities, your moments of empathy and absorption in people will be shallow.
- Completely accepting yourself, including your flaws, see clearly and appreciate and love them. From a position of genuine inner strength and resilience, you can more easily direct your attention outward.