Empathic communication: everything you need to know about it and how to apply it in your life

The empathy is a quality much appreciated in any sphere of life , since it is a principle of communication integral for anyone who has a relationship with another human being. Empathic communication is based on communicating with other people.

How can empathy improve your communication?

Everyone, to a greater or lesser extent, uses empathy in our communication patterns . Whether we are aware of it or not, we are constantly influenced by other people and that affects what we say and how we say it. We are social beings by nature, therefore, it is important that we are aware of the interconnectedness we have with others and use this knowledge to communicate more efficiently and positively . Empathy allows us to act intentionally considering the influences we receive and making specific decisions taking others into account .

Let’s take an example that is easy to understand . In our culture it is normal to wear clothes, and making the decision not to wear them is considered an act of conscious rebellion against the influence of this society . But, the normal thing is to have clothes and wear them, however, we do not have any clothes. The style of clothing that we own is probably influenced by cultural norms , of all the possible wardrobe options, we tend to consider some and discard others. This is so because we have been influenced by other people.

However, we can consider wearing a type of clothing taking into account who we are going to see or in what environment we are going to be . Therefore, as in language , in terms of wardrobe we also have different registers and we adapt our appearance to social situations. For this to be effective, it is necessary to know both the norms and influences of society and take into account the perspective of the people involved in the event in question. Therefore, if you go to a job interview, for example, you will opt for an outfit that is culturally considered professional ( social influence) and that the people who are going to interview you find it pleasant (empathy). If, on the other hand, you want to send a personal message against the culture or the established order by wearing an atypical garment, you will think about how other people will interpret your message in relation to your culture.

Today’s society has a deep tendency to self-centeredness , which is why empathy is used as a means to combat this social evil . You go from being a victim of others to intentionally working with the effects that other people cause us. In fact, the act of empathy requires another level of deliberate, conscious, and calculated decision-making .

How does empathy intervene in our daily life?

Empathy allows us better communication because it makes us put ourselves in the position of the other person , think, feel and act as if you were him or her. Communication requires, at least, another person receiving our message, so if you take into account their perspective or vision of the situation in which you are immersed, you can adapt your communication so that it is better , more effective. This ability to put ourselves in the shoes of the other person allows us to make less selfish decisions and, therefore, have a less negative impact on our environment .

Sometimes what we want is not always the best. Sometimes shifting our focus to a more empathic one can help us achieve our real goal by keeping other people from feeling offended or attacked.

We are going to see two ways of applying empathic communication that usually follow a sequential order.

    1. Attribution . Give the person receiving your communication a perspective by putting yourself in their shoes : take their point of view into account. When you begin to see the world through their eyes, you can attribute certain things to them , such as what vital moment they are in, what they want and how they need you to convey your information to them. Attribution is the act of gathering information to find the best way for your audience to receive your message.
  1. Withdrawal . Adapt what you want to say, do or convey to the attributions that you have previously made. Adapt your behavior and your communication to your recipients.

The importance of words

Having a wide vocabulary and a variety of communicative registers will allow empathic communication to be more effective, since the more language , ideas and information you have, the more options you will have to satisfy the communication needs of your recipient.

The ability to choose the right words helps the message to express exactly what we want to convey, and this intentionality when communicating will benefit any type of human relationship , whether with friends, family, at work, etc.

But words are not everything

The empathic communication is not just to adapt to what the recipient needs to hear but must also take into account the following aspects :

    • How does that person or people need to hear your message
    • Where you need to hear it
    • The style you need to hear it in
  • Why do you need to hear that particular message?

Therefore, empathic communication does not consist only in adapting the language that is going to be used, but all the variables about what happens around when a message is sent are taken into account .

The importance of self empathy

The idea of ​​being empathic with others may sound like a way of forgetting yourself in the communication process and limiting yourself to playing with other people to achieve your own goals or to offer other people what they want. But this is not the case, and falling into this error is unhealthy.

We must not forget that as message producers, we also receive them, therefore, we must consider ourselves as part of the public. As creators of messages, we also suffer the consequences of them .

You cannot lose yourself in empathy . Empathy should produce the most effective version of yourself in the messages you create. In fact, empathy will be as effective towards others as it is for yourself , that is, before meeting others to put yourself in their shoes, it is important that you know yourself first .

Therefore, full empathic communication is difficult to achieve . You have to take into account yourself and others, but your own personality can have certain characteristics that prevent you from applying empathy correctly . For example, a person with a tendency to egocentricity will hide in his message to get what he wants, giving the image that others want to see. A person with a tendency to go out of his way for others will sacrifice everything possible to make the other person happy. A peaceful personality will avoid any difficult communication, etc. But you don’t always have to give favorable messages, since sometimes confrontations are necessary., as well as thinking more of oneself than of others, or conversely, thinking more of others than of oneself. 

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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