Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes and view the world through their eyes. We are a world of 7.8 billion people, where each person is brought up under different circumstances. Factors like genetics, nationality, culture, upbringing, religion, and wealth, render the world diverse beyond imagination. In such a scenario, the foremost virtue that can keep humanity compassionate and unified is empathy.
It is more important to be empathetic now than ever before. These are trying times. The world must stand united against the COVID-19 virus, because only our collective efforts can put an end to its spread.
The following are some ways in which being empathetic can better our personal lives.
Maintenance of peace and tolerance.
History is proof that wars have been started whenever there has been a loss of empathy. Men have been gruesomely oppressed at the hands of other men on grounds of religious intolerance, racism, class differences, etc. Balance is restored only when people get rid of their prejudices and respect diversity.
The fear and anxiety that the Corona virus is spreading may also trigger some lack of empathy. With the virus being called the "Chinese virus" and the singling out of nationalities, it is important to remember that this is not a blame game. Instead, our best efforts should be diverted towards taking care of one another despite our race and age differences. It is important to wear the shoes of our grandparents who are way more susceptible to the virus and it's disastrous effects. Moreover, it is also important to empathize with the hatred meted out to the Chinese, and steer away from uncalled racism.
Being more understanding.
No man can truthfully say that they have never made a mistake, and as the famous Hank Williams lyrics go, "unless you’ve made no mistakes in your life, be careful of stones that you throw." There is no place for judgement in real friendships, and empathy is the best tool to rid ourselves of bigotry.
In present times, empathy can save lives. The lockdowns that have been imposed are for the long haul, and there are several people who do not have the means to stock up on food and other supplies for weeks at a time. We need to be empathetic towards those who cannot afford livelihoods without their daily wages or monthly salaries. We can do so by continuing to pay salaries and donating money and resources.
Improving management / leadership skills.
When experiments were conducted to test whether humans respond better to praise or criticism on tasks, it was found that praise makes a person improve their performance remarkably, while criticism makes them notably worse at the task. This research has profound significance in the workplace. In leadership positions, managers need to know how to bring out the best in their employees. Showing empathy through positive reinforcement and compassion is very important in building personal relations with the employers, boosting team morale and improving performance and result.
This is also very relevant in the context of the Novel Coronavirus. This situation is completely unprecedented and has raised a lot of uncertainty in people’s minds. During this time, world leaders, CEOs, office managers, etc. are required to build trust in people and control the situation so as not to create panic. Only through empathetic planning and infrastructure can they shepherd people into social distancing and safety.
Giving priority to mental well-being.
Our brains are made up of about 100 billion neurons. Perhaps this is the reason we haven't decoded the brain adequately even in the 21st century. A lot of people still consider psychiatric therapy a taboo subject, and think of mental well-being as an abstract concept of being "just in one’s head."
We do not fully understand the deep impact that bullying, racism, classism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination can have on the human mind. When we view someone as "different" from the rest, we harbour an unaccepting and a ruthless outlook towards them - which negatively affects the other person as well as ourselves.. If we teach kids empathy right from the onset, we can avoid these situations of psychological trauma. Acceptance and brotherhood can go a long way in mitigating mental wellness problems.
Let us be kind to one another and make our world a brighter, more uplifting place to live in!