We have all experienced the truism that life doesn’t always go quite as smoothly as we would like. And that sometimes the curveball’s that life throws at us can be very, very stressful. When times get tough, our focus naturally turns inward, and it’s not unusual for people during these periods to feel alone and besieged. It is at moments like these that we appreciate empathy the most. We don’t necessarily want someone to solve our issues (although that would sometimes be nice), but it’s nice to know that someone grasps the implications of our situation.
To have empathy with other people doesn’t mean you have to fawn over them or gush. You just have to let them know that you understand and care about what they’re going through. When it comes to connecting with other people, there is no stronger message that you can send. One of the most powerful sentences you can have in your communications toolbox, in fact, is: “From what you’ve told me, I can understand why you’re frustrated” (‘frustrated can be replaced with ‘angry’, ‘upset’, or similar appropriate words). It says to the person that you’ve taken the time to listen, and that you recognize their emotional state. You’re not necessarily agreeing with them, you’re just empathizing with them.
Sound simple? It is. But at a time when someone is feeling like the world is against them, it is a positive message that they will appreciate and remember for a long time.