One of the most fundamental building blocks for any great friendship is empathy – the ability to see things from others perspectives and understand their emotions, conflicts and struggles. Below are just five ways that you can enhance your empathy, thereby improving your friendships.

 

Help others whenever you can

 

We are all given unique strengths and abilities which we can use to help others. I have often been complimented on my resume, and I have offered to help many of my friends with theirs. I help homeless people by giving them food, treating them with dignity and listening to them. One of my strengths is organizing and so I’m planning one of my best friends baby showers.

 

There are so many ways we can help others and in doing so, not only do we reap the rewards of increased self-esteem, happiness and fulfillment but we also learn to place ourselves in others positions, cultivating a greater level of compassion, kindness and empathy.

 

Lovingkindness Meditation

 

This form of meditation trains us to extend lovingkindness to ourselves, others and the world at large. It is a wonderfully uplifting experience and guides us to the understanding that everyone has struggles and wants happiness and peace. It then encourages us to extend lovingkindness to strangers, friends, family and the world. For anyone that struggles to see things from others perspectives I would encourage them to start with lovingkindness meditation.

 

Active Listening

 

Learning about body language can be very beneficial to understanding people better. A tilted head indicates someone is absorbed in listening whilst a scratch of the nose may indicate their disagreement or disbelief in what is being said. Active listening is the culmination of using knowledge about body language and listening to the tone, inflection and possible underlying meanings of what someone is saying to you. You can then convey your understanding by repeating what has been said and saying how you imagine it must have felt.

 

Do you actively listen? Have you ever tried lovingkindness meditation? How did you enjoy it? How have you helped others in the past and how did it make you feel? What is your personal definition of empathy? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.