Reposted from http://www.speakingtree.in/blog/try-this-for-a-change
With so many global conflicts – over resources, territory and ideology plus increasing disputes about inequality, cronyism and climate change – it’s time we find ways to reconcile differences and discover solutions. Greater empathy, for real or imagined adversaries, is a good place to start.
Empathy is the ability to understand and be sensitive to someone else’s feelings and experiences by putting yourself in their shoes – seeing things from their perspective. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with their point of view. Simply reflect on the differences with equanimity and refrain from dismissive or divisive reactions.
Empathy strengthens constructive social behavior. By offering a non-judgmental, compassionate presence foes are more relaxed and less defensive. This allows for more respectful listening and increases the likelihood of a calm, reasoned response. Empathetic communications enables the person speaking to engage with a deeper understanding of the other person’s needs. The conversation is transformed from confrontation to curiosity and connection. This makes it easier for the parties to cooperate with one another so problems can be solved and relationships enriched by diverse points of view.
Empathetic communication is a multi-step process. First is attentive listening. Then one reflects back what they heard. Third, is a reframing; state your understanding of their feelings about the situation. Fourth, focus on assuring them you recognize what they value or need. The value or need should be expressed positively to show you grasp why they have such a need rather than suggesting that something is missing in their life. This four step process makes problem solving much easier; something I learned when I had a dispute with a neighbor. By standing in his shoes and acknowledging his wishes and then doing my best to meet what he wanted, he moderated his apprehension and allowed me to proceed with my legitimate plans. Our relationship was enhanced and I learned an important lesson: empathy has its rewards.
“Because a human being is endowed with empathy, he violates the natural order if he does not reach out to those who need care. Responding to this empathy, one is in harmony with the order of things, with dharma; otherwise, one is not.” Dayananda Saraswati