You know you’re a good person, but you’ve never thought of yourself as a particularly sensitive type.
But the truth is that much of your empathy may fly under the radar.
You don’t have to feel everything really deeply to display empathy.
It shows up in the subtle yet powerful ways you interact with others and relate to yourself.
In fact, if you do the following things, chances are you have more empathy than you realize.
1) You get pretty embarrassed for people when they make a fool of themselves
Believe it or not, the cringe factor is also a sign of empathy.
When a friend retells an embarrassing story you can’t help but feel for them.
When someone humiliates themselves in a public place, it’s mortifying to you.
Even when something makes you cringe on TV, you find it hard to watch and end up looking away.
Your blushes are down to the fact that you can vividly put yourself in someone else’s shoes. And that’s empathy!
2) You take on board the feelings, ideas, and wishes of others
You don’t have to have everything your own way all the time.
You recognize that it’s only fair that everyone gets a say and a vote.
In your mind, you aren’t being particularly accommodating, it’s simply a matter of what is fair and right.
That means you are taking the time to understand the needs of other people.
3) You truly listen to what other people have to say
Most of us suck at listening way more than we like to imagine.
Even many self-proclaimed empaths are too busy stuck in their own thoughts to properly listen when others speak.
That’s why showing others the courtesy of actively listening is a big deal.
In doing so you show them respect and create an opportunity for them to feel heard and understood.
4) You can read the room
We all know those people who seem totally oblivious to their environment.
And as a consequence, they behave in appropriate ways that they don’t even notice.
But when you can read the room and adapt to your audience, this doesn’t happen.
It may seem like you get an instant feel for people’s character. Or you simply sense the vibe and energy in the room.
But below the surface, it’s more complex.
You are picking up on the subtle signals that other people are giving out.
They are communicating with you through their body language or facial expressions, and you are getting the signal loud and clear.
This skill is in part thanks to your empathy.
5) You pick up on your loved one’s bad mood
She says that nothing is wrong, but you’re not buying it.
Perhaps you could sense it as soon as you walked through the door.
Being tuned into someone’s changing moods is a clear sign you can pick up on their feelings.
You still may not have a clue what it’s about, but empathy doesn’t make you a mind reader!
6) You handle tricky situations with tact
Conflict resolution is made a whole lot easier when you have empathy.
Rather than steamroller in, you are diplomatic in your approach.
You realize it makes more sense to get someone on side.
What you’re actually doing is creating an emotional connection to build trust.
7) You are prepared to offer a helping hand
Chances are, when you do someone a favor it’s because you care.
Altruism, compassion, and empathy tend to go hand-in-hand.
You offered to help your friend move apartments. Not because that’s your idea of a fun Saturday. But because you know that it sucks for them to have to do it alone.
Empathy prompts us to recognize that no man is an island.
It is through cooperation and consideration that we co-exist.
8) You try to see things from another side
You have this great idea that you a very much on board with. But when you float it in your work meeting your colleague totally disagrees.
Perhaps you are frustrated and disappointed by their reaction. But you are prepared to hear them out.
And when you do, you can acknowledge that maybe they have a point with their concerns.
Being able to see things from another angle means you take a thoughtful approach.
9) You are happy to comfort a friend when they’re feeling upset
If your pal comes to you in floods of tears, I’m guessing you don’t roll your eyes and tell them to get over it.
No, you feel bad for them and you want them to feel better. It may even hurt you to see the people you love hurting.
That’s because your empathy has you unwittingly absorbing their emotions.
10) You adjust your tone depending on who you’re talking to
The very fact that we carry ourselves differently depending on who we’re with is a testament to our ability to understand what is appropriate.
You probably speak to your boss in one way, total strangers in another, and your close friends and family completely differently.
This shows that you get people.
You behave befittingly because you are far more adept at social awareness than you maybe give yourself credit for.
11) You approach daily frustrations with patience
Let’s face it, life throws plenty of opportunities for us to get agitated and annoyed.
If you are good at keeping your composure then don’t underestimate how powerful your levels of empathy really are.
Because it’s actually difficult to display patience without it.
In the words of Albert Einstein:
“Empathy is patiently and sincerely seeing the world through the other person’s eyes.”
Being able to take a deep breath and give people the benefit of the doubt says a lot about you.
12) You can sense when you’re about to blow a fuse
…Not only that, but you know how to manage it before it happens.
Being able to recognize and keep a handle on our emotions is one of the many advantages of empathy.
Plenty of high-conflict individuals get themselves into trouble because they fail to have any self-awareness.
When we can’t identify our emotions, we’re not going to be able to spot them creeping up on us.
13) You take your responsibility to people seriously
You’re loyal and you take commitment seriously.
You feel a sense of duty to your family. You instinctively want to take care of and defend the people you care most about in the world.
But you also apply this morality elsewhere too.
Whether it’s a stressed coworker you feel compelled to lighten the load off or a stranded stranger with a flat tire — you have a deep sense of responsibility.
14) You respect people’s boundaries
Clued-up people who have respect for others are naturally better at upholding others’ boundaries.
They don’t impose themselves on others or cross the line. They can sense what’s pushy and cheeky and they don’t take advantage.
If you are mindful of overstepping other people’s limits you are displaying your understanding.
15) You take time alone to unplug
…And one of the reasons you need to do so is simply to decompress.
Being around other people and the strong relationships we form undoubtedly give life its meaning.
But it can be draining too.
Particularly for empathetic people who have a radar for others’ feelings.
If it all gets a bit too much, you may find that some much-needed alone time is the antidote.
It’s how you recharge emotionally.
16) You make sure people are included rather than leave anyone out
You are the type that will invite the whole class to the party. Not only is it much simpler but that way, no one feels excluded.
You know that it’s not nice to hurt feelings. And nothing hurts our feelings quite like social rejection.
Perhaps you experienced being left out at some time or another, and know how unpleasant it is.
Considering how your actions could impact others, and imagining how it feels, is empathy at work.
17) You’ve got an active imagination
Empathy actually demands of us that we have a strong imagination.
After all, you don’t know how someone else is feeling or thinking — you are only trying to picture it in your mind.
And it’s this that helps you to tap into a potential scenario and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Without that imagination, that’s very hard to do.
18) You say sorry when you’ve hurt someone’s feelings
You don’t just say sorry for the sake of an easier life. It’s not a snide “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way” either.
When you’ve done or said something that has wounded, you genuinely feel bad about it.
Empathy is a skill, not a trait
Chances are that by now you’ve recognized all the many ways that empathy already plays an important role in your life.
But empathy is not a quality we either possess or not. It’s a skill that we develop. That means we can always learn more.
Empathy helps us:
- Build stronger social connections
- Tap into what others are feeling and thinking
- Respond appropriately to people
- Regulate our own emotions
- Promote helping behaviors
So it’s always a skill worth strengthening!