I am Dr. Hassan, a Board-Certified Physiatrist and Independent Practice Owner. I help physiatrists start and grow their own profitable practices so they can achieve financial independence and live without limits.

So now we want to discuss how to build empathy. Have you ever had this happen? A friend gives you a call. They say they’re going through a tough time emotionally. You ask them what happened. They lay out the situation for you. They could have caused the problem themselves or it was out of their control. Either way, you can really understand what they’re going through. You’ve experienced something similar years ago. The emotions and feelings come rushing back, and you absolutely understand their point of view.

If you’ve ever experienced this and felt a strong urge to help that person, that’s empathy. It’s an emotional skill that not everyone has. It’s a beautiful way to make the world a better place. It creates a more social planet. Then there are the positive feelings you get from helping someone in need. This skillset can be employed in business with phenomenal results, if done correctly. Putting oneself in someone else’s shoes, then developing a solution to their problem — because you understand their struggle — will forever endear you to that person and create a lifelong connection. You have now completed the trifecta of getting them to know, like, and trust you by showing empathy and solving their problem.

If you would like to improve your empathy skills, here are four exercises that can help you do exactly that. They’ll let you experience the many benefits of empathy, while also helping those people you do business with.

1. Work through a ‘what if’ scenario. For this exercise, you want to recall a specific time you struggled with some negative emotions. What caused those feelings? Remember the situation, then ask yourself, what if a friend came to me with the same problem? Ask any professional athlete and they’ll tell you that practice is important. The same is true of world class musicians. Actors and politicians practice their scripts and speeches several times. There’s an old saying that tells us practice makes perfect. What you’re doing is practicing a potential situation before it arises. You might be surprised to find that what you do for yourself when you experience the situation, is different than how you would react for a friend. This could point out that you need to give your friend or yourself more empathy the next time it’s needed.

2. When you’re stressed out, give. You can improve your empathy radar by giving when you need to get. At some point during your day, you might be stressed out. You feel like you have no physical energy. Sometimes when this happens, you should give something of value to someone else. Being stressed and worn out makes you think about yourself. You turn inside. This is a wonderful time to offer your time, money, or energy to someone else in a needy position. It could be as simple as shooting a text message to one of your friends or business associates who’s going through a tough time. It doesn’t need to be a huge gesture. Getting better at empathy is about doing lots of small things, especially when you’re dragging because of a distressing day.

3. Don’t just click –connect. The internet and social media allow for instant access. We jump on our phones all the time. The next time you do connect with someone, make a real connection. Don’t just hop online and start clicking, surfing, and viewing videos. Talk with someone. Get inside their brain. Ask them how their day’s going. Pay them a compliment. The next time you go online, promise yourself you’re going to connect with someone emotionally.

4. Start looking for empathy in others. Do you know what empathy looks like? I’m sure you do. Start praising other people when they display empathy. You make the world a better place because you’re reinforcing positive behavior. Additionally, you subconsciously tell yourself that practicing empathy is a good thing. That means you’re more likely to respond with empathy when it’s required in the future. The fact that you want to be more empathetic is a great sign. It means you’re emotionally healthy. It also means you want to make the world a better place by helping others when you see that they need assistance.

Try out these four exercises to build your empathy and notice your personal growth and stronger relationships with others.

Practicing empathy is one of many habits of a supportive person. Check out our blog post here to read about other habits of supportive people.

I’m Dr. Hassan, a Board-Certified Physiatrist and Independent Practice Owner. I help physiatrists start and grow their own profitable practices so they can achieve financial independence and live without limits. Please go to businessofrehab.com/contractnegotiations to pick up the free guide to help you negotiate the contract of your dreams.

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