We’ve spent some time recently talking about sympathy and empathy. To recap, sympathy is often described as something you express while empathy is more of something you feel. We’ve touched upon the three types of empathy, Cognitive, Emotive and Compassionate. Cognitive is the recognition or understanding that another is suffering, Emotive is a sharing of the feelings or emotions of the pain and Compassionate Empathy drives us to do something about it.
We’ve all probably known people who seem to lack empathy and others who may even seem like that have a bit too much. The fact is empathy is an important part of the human experience. Why is it so critical?
First, empathy promotes better social behavior. It is hard to imagine how we would behave if none of us had empathy for each other. Knowing and sharing how someone feels provides a framework or borders to live within. It helps determine how selfless we are and how willing we are to help others.
Some have suggested that psychopaths have no empathy. Experts, however, seem to largely agree that empathy is even necessary for psychopaths to relate to their victims at least on some level. At the other extreme is a person who may feel an enormous amount of empathy, making it difficult for them to react to a situation in a balanced way. Extreme empathy can make it difficult for a person to react at all.
Recognizing someone’s situation or pain on a cognitive level is useful in business situations where negotiations are taking place. It is helpful to know “where they are coming from” without becoming over emotional about the negotiations.
Emotive empathy is very important in close personal relationships and family situations. Strong emotional empathy is, in part, why we want to protect those we care about. On the other hand, too much empathy can make us unable to act, or even lead us to hate those we feel may have wronged a loved one.
Highly empathetic people frequently feel to take action. Because they are more likely to relate to characters in a scary movie, they may be more likely to lock their doors or hear noises at night. They are also more likely to donate to a charity or reach out to the family who has recently lost a loved one.
There are a variety of established questionnaires that have been put together through the years to help measure empathy. Questions like “I try to look at both sides of a situation before making a decision” can help determine Cognitive Empathy. Strongly agreeing with statements like “It impacts me greatly when a close friend is upset” can help measure Emotive Empathy. Answering yes to “I would stop on my way to work to check on a child who I saw fall off his bike, even if I was running late.” could be an indicator of Compassionate Empathy.
Empathy is an important element in the human experience, but like most, it is best when in balance. Too little and you may appear cold or callous. Too much and it may inhibit a rational decision-making process.
Empathy plays a large role in what we do at the Cremation Society of Greater Cincinnati. It is so important we empathize with the families of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky we serve, yet it is important, as professionals, we help them understand their options and help them make rational, prudent decisions.
If you are pre-planning your final arrangements or require assistance in a current need, we are here to answer your questions and to guide you through the process. We do it with a caring, thoughtful yet professional approach. We are Fares J. Radel Funeral Homes and Crematory of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.