The top 10 habits of highly empathetic people

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Today’s advanced technology has made it possible for us to connect with people across the world. 

Strangely, however, it has also made us more detached in a way, trapped in bubbles with people who share the same worldviews and backgrounds as us. 

Research shows that the increased use of technology, especially social media, has led many people to become less empathetic, especially toward those unfamiliar to them. 

That said, it has become even more crucial to be aware of how we treat other people. Do we pay attention when they talk to us? Can we establish authentic relationships with others? 

The key to human connection is empathy. This is the ability to understand how others feel and show compassion toward them. 

Fortunately, you can learn how to do this with practice and mindfulness. 

If you’re looking for ways to bring out your empathetic side, you’re in luck. 

In this article, I’ll discuss the top 10 habits of highly empathetic people. 

Let’s dive in! 

1) They practice active listening

I’ve often heard it said that most people listen with the intent to speak. And I’ve observed this in conversations with other people, too. I’ve come away from conversations feeling like my concerns went unheard. 

But with a highly empathetic person, you won’t experience this. That’s because they practice active listening. 

Active listening involves making an effort to really listen to what others are saying and being fully present in the conversation. 

To be an active listener, you have to pay attention to both the words and the nonverbal cues of the person speaking.

Highly empathetic people reflect on what the person they’re speaking to is saying. They affirm they’re listening through nonverbal cues like smiling and nodding or brief phrases like, “Mm-hmm” or “And then?” 

Their body language and gestures encourage the speaker to go on and indicate they’re fully immersed in the conversation

2) They ask open-ended questions

Highly empathetic people are curious about the experiences and feelings of others, and they know that open-ended questions are the perfect way to connect with others. 

Open-ended questions are those that don’t generate a yes-no response. Instead, it is free of structure and invites the other person to give you more information. 

This is a better approach to building rapport with others. When people are asked to share more about themselves, they feel valued and empowered. 

Aside from that, empathetic people replace giving advice with questions to better understand others’ perspectives and help people arrive at solutions they’re comfortable with. 

For example, instead of simply offering their opinion, an empathetic person might ask the following questions: 

  • How do you feel about it?
  • Can you tell me more?
  • What do you mean?
  • What would be helpful?
  • What do you make of it?

Even in professional settings, open-ended questions work to build better relationships among team members. Employees feel more supported and cared for when their bosses ask them open-ended questions. 

3) They show genuine interest in others

Highly empathetic people are genuinely interested in learning about others and their lives. 

They are not just looking for ways to talk about themselves or solve problems; they are truly curious and open to understanding others on a deeper level.

You’ll feel their sincerity in wanting to get to know you, and they go out of their way to make you feel welcome and seen. 

4) They are understanding and do not judge others

Understanding other people’s perspectives can be challenging, especially when you don’t agree with them. 

But that’s precisely what highly empathetic people can do. 

They can put themselves in others’ shoes and recognize that everyone has their own unique experiences and backgrounds. 

They are highly self-aware as well and recognize their own biases. Because they can do this, they can consciously set aside these biases and try to understand other people’s perspectives. 

As a result, they don’t judge others for their thoughts, feelings, or actions.

5) They respond to non-verbal cues

I once had a high school teacher who seemed to be everyone’s favorite. It was easy to see why—she could sense when someone was having a bad day and would call that person aside after class to check in on them. 

I often wondered how she could do that; many years later, I realized it was all because she had the gift of empathy. 

She could use non-verbal cues to detect how her students were feeling. For example, she could tell we were restless from the way we twirled our pens. She could tell from how we kept our heads down that we were sad. 

Knowing how to spot non-verbal clues is a skill that highly empathetic people have. And instead of ignoring these clues, they reach out to the person and show genuine interest in them. 

6) They stay empathetic even when it is difficult

When issues arise, highly empathetic people do not shy away from difficult conversations or emotions. 

They have mastered the art of managing their emotions and can still show empathy and understanding even in challenging situations.

Even when they’re upset, they still try to know and understand the other person’s perspective instead of immediately reacting. They aim to engage in dialogues instead of debates. 

This approach shifts the conversation to one of collaboration. 

Instead of endlessly arguing, the people who engage in dialogues seek to understand the other person’s side and work together for a meaningful resolution.  

That way, they can avoid escalating the conflict and reach a compromise or joint resolution to the problem. 

7) They do acts of kindness and compassion

Highly empathetic people are caring and compassionate towards others. They are willing to offer support and help to those in need.

They often perform small acts of kindness, such as offering a listening ear, sending thoughtful gifts, giving hugs, or doing errands for someone else. 

If you find yourself struggling in a difficult situation, you can count on them to support you.

8) They speak in collaborative terms

“We” and “Let’s” are common words in highly empathetic people’s language. 

Instead of focusing on themselves, they shift the focus to include the person they’re talking to. This infuses the conversation with a collaborative spirit that makes everyone feel supported and empowered.  

Research shows that changing your language trains you to be more empathetic. People who use collaborative language can better understand and interpret others’ thoughts and emotions.  

So, if you want to truly connect and work well with someone, try framing suggestions like this: 

  • “Let’s talk about how we can solve this.”
  • “Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out.” 

You’ll soon find that you’ll be more attuned to other people’s needs, and they’ll be more motivated to work with you. 

9) They exercise patience

Patience is a virtue, and it’s one that highly empathetic people have heaps of. 

They exercise patience even in stressful situations and take the time to fully listen and understand others instead of rushing to provide a solution.

Most of all, they understand that everyone makes mistakes and deserves compassion. 

10) They express their emotions appropriately

Empaths have high emotional intelligence. They are adept at recognizing their own emotions and can express them in a healthy and appropriate way. 

And because they are also attuned to other people’s feelings, they have a keen sense of the right way to say something, even if it’s something unpleasant. 

Final thoughts

Empathy is both a skill and a quality of the heart. Some people are naturally gifted with empathy, but anyone can become more empathetic if they want to be. 

To be more empathetic, you must be more open to other people’s viewpoints. Start by talking to new people, admitting and overcoming your biases, and practicing patience. 

When you put yourself in another’s shoes, you can understand what they’re going through and offer the right kind of support. And that is the true meaning of empathy

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