'I can't imagine what you're going through' - lessons on learning empathy

Empathy is one of the most important principles in understanding human behaviour.

Empathy is the act of placing yourself in another individual’s shoes and understanding their perspective and emotional experience, explains clinical psychologist Hayden Knibbs.

Read: How to become more empathetic (and less self-absorbed)

Knibbs says deep levels of empathy can potentially lead to greater compassion in society and address social ills such as violence and inequality.

He says that self-centred individual's struggle to grasp and practice the concept of empathy.

According to Knibbs, personal encounters often unlock a person's ability to empathise with others.

He says that more awareness needs to be raised about the important role of empathy in society.

Empathy is placing yourself in somebody else's shoes and understanding what their experience is.

Hayden Knibbs, clinical psychologist

Empathy is probably the single most important concept in psychology... It really is the cornerstone of how we function.

Hayden Knibbs, clinical psychologist

Each and every human being views the world from a different perspective.

Hayden Knibbs, clinical psychologist

Two different perspectives can be simultaneously true.

Hayden Knibbs, clinical psychologist

If somebody holds a different perspective it doesn't cancel ours. That's something that we commonly forget.

Hayden Knibbs, clinical psychologist

Growth, empathy and meaning can be facilitated from a loss. It expands our frame and hits us like a jolt.

Hayden Knibbs, clinical psychologist

You are more likely to illicit hostility, if you have lower levels of empathy.

Hayden Knibbs, clinical psychologist

He describes how people with vastly different identities can empathise with others using frames of reference.

Take a listen to the in-depth discussion during the Family Matters feature:


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