Dealing with Other People’s Lack of Empathy
Does other people’s lack of empathy upset or annoy you? Is your manager, colleague, family member or friend coming across as uncaring or cold? Are you feeling unsupported as a result of others’ lack of empathy? Would you like some tips when dealing with other people’s lack of empathy?
When we feel empathy, we feel how another person feels. We see the situation from their perspective. We are putting ourselves in their shoes. In the absence of empathy from others we can feel unsupported, lonely, isolated and disempowered.
When we feel empathy, we empower others. By feeling empathy, we strengthen our communication and connection with others. With empathy, there is a much deeper rapport and understanding. Solutions are far easier and more relevant.
Empathy helps us to be empowered leaders of ourselves. It helps leaders to empower individuals and teams. It helps colleagues to support each other purposefully. Empathy helps to strengthen relationships.
Empathy is a key foundation of emotional intelligence. It avoids inaccurate assumptions and mind reading. Without empathy, conversations can end up in disagreements, conflicts and soured relationships.
Signs of Lack of Empathy
Empathy does not come naturally to everyone. Some people are more empathetic than others. Here are some signs that a person may lack empathy. They:
- talk mainly about themselves and do not express any interest in others
- find it difficult to feel happy for others
- have difficulty forming new friendships/connections or deepening existing ones
- have difficulties getting along with people at work, home or socially
- are “cold” towards others’ plight
- say things like “get over it”, “build a bridge”, etc.
- are quick to criticise or judge others
- are wedded to their own ideas as being right and judge others with different beliefs/values to theirs as wrong
- feel entitled or use others to serve their own needs
- get easily upset if they do not get their own way
- hurt others and blame the other person for feeling hurt, etc.
Causes of Lack of Empathy
Empathy is developed in our early years based on our upbringing at home and school, our interpretation of our upbringing, our experiences, our peers, etc. A lack of empathy can develop as a result of:
- a preference for seeing the world objectively and rationally rather than through emotions. This is often reflected in our communication style and the words we use.
- modelling family, peers and others in our early years e.g. if our family never expressed their feelings or showed empathy towards others we can model the same traits
- significant emotional experiences that have us feel hurt, rejected, etc. and we shut down our emotions/avoid feeling to avoid further hurt, etc.
- past experiences where we expressed our emotions and we were judged/put down/bullied for having/expressing our feelings, crying, etc.
- traumatic events in the past that have the person disconnect from their feelings in order to cope with situations and life.
In extreme cases of lack of empathy, people will exhibit conditions such as narcissism, sociopathy or psychopathy. Too much empathy can also be a problem. Being overly empathetic towards others can cause us to rescue and disempower them.
How to Deal with Others’ Lack of Empathy
More and more people are finding that their manager, colleagues, partner, family and friends are lacking empathy. They are seeking my help with dealing with those people. Here are four tips to assist you.
1. When dealing with a manager, colleague, partner, family or friend who lacks empathy remember that their lack of empathy is a reflection of their model of the world. It reflects their values, beliefs, past experiences, and deeper core issues.
2. Gauge your response to their lack of empathy. Does it push your “buttons”? Do you overreact or get overly emotional? If so, identify and address your “buttons” so that you are more in control of your own response.
3. Then change your approach to them. If you keep communicating with them in the same way, you will keep getting the same response from them. This will only frustrate you. Understand what makes them “tick” and relate to them in a way they will understand you. Communicate with them in their communication and personality styles, while being true to yourself.
4. Refocus on you and ensure your self-worth and confidence is based on your opinion of yourself, rather than that of other people, especially the unempathetic ones. Show yourself more self-love, empathy and self-care so you attract it from others. Like attracts like.
Remember you are unable to change people who are unwilling to change themselves. By changing your response to others and how you relate to them, you can empower yourself to more effectively deal with people who lack empathy. Empower yourself right away with these free resources.
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