Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.
I swear it’s going to be a few weeks before everyone stops talking about the Vikings vs. Saints game that aired this past Sunday. I mean, the guys and I couldn’t believe our eyes! How do you miss a tackle, take out your own teammate and allow a touchdown, all in one play in the dying seconds of a game? As soon as we saw Marcus Williams’ mistake, we couldn’t stop jumping and screaming! We got so rowdy that some of the wives came into the garage to see what all the fuss was about.
When we told the girls about the blunder of the decade, we expected them to start jeering with us, but our heckling was cut short when we saw their looks of dismay. My wife instantly hit me with the, “How do you think that kid feels right now?” expression and was instantly joined by the rest of the ladies. To be honest, I hadn’t really thought of it that way. Here’s a 21-year-old athlete who must feel absolutely terrible about his error, and here I am making fun of him along with the entire nation. I didn’t want to admit it, but perhaps it was time for me to take a closer look at my compassion.
The NFL has just seen one of the most exciting games in recent history, and every football fan in the world is talking about Marcus Williams’ elimination blunder. The commentators were quick to single him out, sports journalists wasted no time in emphasizing the mistake and the public was quick to take the topic to social media.
Yet, with all the memes, jokes and judgmental tweets, no one is talking about how Williams himself must feel. Have we lost touch with empathy? If we have, how do we get back on track? At Rice Psychology Group, we feel the need to address these questions to have a better grip of our own compassion.
Good-to-Know FactsIf we’re being hurtful, empathy lets us ease up, look at what we’re doing and act accordingly. Click To Tweet
Unlike sympathy, which lets you feel for someone, empathy allows you to connect with and understand the emotions of others. But why do we need it? Perhaps you’ve seen a close friend of yours speak publicly at a presentation and absolutely bomb it. If you have no connection to how she/he might be feeling after their public failure, you may not be able to respond to their woes appropriately.
Without empathy, we could potentially live, socialize and work without having a clue regarding our peers’ feelings. Additionally, empathy can act as a sort of moral compass. If we’re being hurtful, empathy lets us ease up, look at what we’re doing and act accordingly.
Put it Into Practice
According to a Time.com article, more than 70% of adults have experienced harassment online, and the last three decades have seen the empathy levels of college students fall by almost 50%. The same article, written by Roman Krznaric, Ph.D., revealed that the wealthier you are, the less empathetic you’re likely to be.If you’re in an argument or discussion, don’t be afraid to step back, be quiet and listen. Click To Tweet
While this is concerning, there are steps you can take to put a more empathetic approach at the forefront of how you deal with other people’s public failures, emotions and feelings.
- Listen – If you’re in an argument or discussion, don’t be afraid to step back, be quiet and listen. Get to know what they’re feeling and what they want so you can fully understand where they’re coming from.
- Ask Away – Have you ever wondered how that person you see at the bus stop every day is doing? Don’t be afraid to ask! Becoming interested in others can take you one step closer toward being empathetic.
- Live Vicariously – By reading books and watching films, you can take a first-hand look at the feelings and thoughts of people from all walks of life. Though it may seem meaningless, it serves as good practice for spotting emotional states!
- Observe – Non-verbal communication can convey more than you think, so keep an eye (and ear) out for tones of voice, facial expressions, hand gestures, etc.
- Challenge Yourself – Think deep conversations are just too awkward? Go for it anyway! Doing so can help you see their points of view and understand how the think.
Ready. Set. Help.Becoming interested in others can take you one step closer toward being empathetic. Click To Tweet
As the NFL postseason fever continues to rise, let’s try to ensure that our empathy levels do so as well. At Rice Psychology Group, we recognize how important it is to understand and value the way other people feel, which is why we’re always ready to help. Whether you need to understand a loved one, or if you’ve suffered through public failure yourself and need our help to feel better, we are always here for you. Contact our team of psychologists in Tampa today to schedule your appointment.