Understanding others

Fleur Ravensbergen, Deputy Director & co-founder DAG – facilitating dialogue in armed conflict

Relationships can function on a superficial level for a very long time, even among people who live and work closely with each other for years. Yet we all intuitively recognize and value a connection that is deeper, closer and more empathic in nature, that special “my best friend since forever” type of relationship.

Our ability to empathize is already present in early childhood, and it has a direct impact on our neural mechanisms. The ‘mirror neurons’ in our brain are what helps us gaze at the gestures and facial expressions of our caregivers and develop a shared scheme for interpreting the world around us. This is the earliest basis of empathic relatedness and emotional attachment to others.

Empathy can act like social glue by facilitating communication, fostering compassion, and motivating pro-social behavior. What’s more, empathy can increase our subjective wellbeing and improve our interpersonal relationships, whether at work or in our personal life. It has been shown to increase business performance within teams and foster a deeper bond in personal relationships.

Understanding others better

What are the ingredients that contribute to a deeper understanding of another human being, and how can they be applied even in this virtual age? Take a look at the ‘ingredients list’ below.

This block of the program is called ‘Connect’. While you can connect with others on many levels, working out your empathy and emotional intelligence muscles will help you become a kinder and more compassionate person – at home and at work. Being less judgmental and a touch more understanding of others builds relatedness and closeness. It makes for more resilient and constructive relationships, better able to withstand arguments, disputes and disagreements.

Understanding others and employing empathy facilitates collaboration and leads to helping behavior, which benefits social and professional relationships. When people experience empathy, they are more likely to engage in pro-social behaviors that benefit other people. Now, wouldn’t that be wonderful in a team?