Empathy helps us understand other people and what they’re feeling. Do you want to know how empathetic you are? We prepared a test to help you find your place on the empathy scale. Today you can determine your level of empathy in just a few minutes, for free.
Let’s define empathy and what it truly means to be an empath. Being empathetic means understanding how other people feel and why they react the way they do. It’s the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes. According to the latest scientific research, around 98% of all people have the ability to emphasize with others. The few exceptions are those with sociopathic or narcissistic tendencies.
The widespread belief is that people on the autism spectrum might struggle with understanding the emotions of others, but it’s not entirely true. Many researchers have begun to question the assumption that autistic people lack empathy. They propose that those on the spectrum can still relate to the feelings of others, even if it’s not in a traditional way. The suggestion is that it’s not empathy that is impaired in autistic people but social communication.
An empath is a person who is highly attuned to other people’s emotions. They can not only understand these feelings but also experience them on a deeper level. There are different kinds of empaths, for example, a physical empath, an emotional empath, or an intuitive empath.
We can differentiate between several types of empathy a person can experience. The first is affective empathy, which means understanding other people’s emotions and responding appropriately. It’s the ability to share another person’s feelings. For example, if your friend comes to you crying, you will feel sad and distressed. This type of empathy can lead to the person experiencing it being overwhelmed and emotionally burned out.
Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand someone’s mental state and response to a situation. It suggests you know why someone is sad, angry, or anxious. It doesn’t mean that you are also feeling sad or anxious. Cognitive empathy is comprehending emotions on an intellectual, somewhat superficial level. For example, if you’re working with an upset customer, it will help you deal with them tactfully and professionally.
Compassionate empathy means not only you understand someone’s emotions, but you also take feelings into action. It is about doing something about another person’s distress. Certain studies suggest that people with a higher level of compassionate empathy understand others’ emotions better and are more likely to help them. It is the kind of empathy the most beneficial to society and the kind we should all strive to perfect in our lives.
These three types are the main categories used when talking about empathy. However, some people point out other minor types, levels, or varieties.
Somatic empathy involves a physical reaction to a feeling someone is experiencing. It might be the result of mirror neuron responses in the nervous system. For example, when you see someone embarrassed, you might blush or get a stomachache. Or you might make a face while watching violent scenes in a movie. You are essentially mirroring another person’s emotions. Some people can experience sympathy pains while witnessing someone give birth. Interesting, isn’t it?
For most people, empathy is simply a skill they can learn and strengthen. What are ways to practice your empathy? Work on listening to others without interrupting. Don’t just wait for them to finish so you can jump in with your own story. Become curious about what other people have to say. They might surprise you!
Minimize distractions while talking to other people. Put down your phone, turn your face to the person you’re speaking to, close the work e-mails for a bit. In today’s fast-paced world, it might be challenging to give someone your undivided attention, but you have to try. People will notice and appreciate the respect you give them.
Try to see the similarities between yourself and other people, even those you don’t like. In many cases, it’s possible to overcome your differences. Have someone you dislike? Do a little exercise: list some of their positive traits to see them in a different light.
Observe other people’s body language. Sometimes you can learn way more about another person that way. Pay attention to your body language also and show empathy through it. Lean slightly forward, open your arms, and make eye contact to show interest and compassion.
It takes courage to talk to a stranger, but it helps to build empathy when you put yourself in their shoes. Next time you’re standing in line or waiting for the bus, strike up a conversation with the person next to you. You might even find a new friend that way.
Take the quiz to determine how empathetic you are. Remember, there are no right or wrong options, so answer the questions as honestly as possible.
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What score can you get?
very empathetic, moderately empathetic, a little empathetic, not empathetic
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