Sharing feelings out loud with others helps you get feedback, and also helps you sort through them as you talk. The house is a mess and company is coming! If you are new to identifying your emotions, then carrying a list of different emotions may help you to identify what you are feeling. Be an active listener. Active listening helps you develop empathy because you are fully listening to the person talking with your eyes and body language as well as your ears. You will also echo back to the person what you are hearing them say.
Put down your phone or other distractions and point your body in the direction of the speaker. Make eye contact with the person. Paraphrasing is using your own words to describe what you just heard the other person say. This often helps both of you gain greater understanding.
It just seems like it will never get done! Let the person know how what they are sharing with you makes you feel. This helps you move towards further understanding about how the person is feeling. Either way, you further understand what this person is experiencing and feeling, thus building empathy. Human beings seem to be hard-wired to retain and learn from stories. Most of the time, people are willing to share about themselves, particularly if you are engaging in empathic behaviors and active listening.
For the most empathic bang for your buck, read works of literary fiction, where the relationship dynamics and character psychology are often more developed than other types of books. Look for common interests with another person. This can be a stepping stone toward a deeper understanding.
You could use the common sport as a starting point for conversation. From there you could talk about tennis players from his home country, then how his culture is different from yours. Sharing your own vulnerabilities helps grown connections. Get to know the person, and share deeper conversations in quieter, private settings--like driving in a car or playing a game one-on-one, not in a noisy arcade or while others may be eavesdropping. Think of a conversation as a spiral. You start at the outer loop with more superficial conversation.
As you progress in your conversation and build empathy with the other person, you move closer in toward the center of the spiral and it becomes more appropriate to share those innermost, core feelings. I feel like that a lot, too.
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Sometimes I feel like I will never meet anybody who really gets me. Notice how much people communicate with their bodies through gestures, posture, or head movement. For example, think about someone shrugging their shoulders.
Social Awareness Skills for Kindergarteners
Imagine you had a mute button and could turn off the sound: Do you think you could figure out the context of the conversation by watching how people move? Listen to tone of voice. You can say the same words, but change your tone of voice, and the words will take on different meanings.
Test out your tone of voice by repeating a sentence, imagining you are feeling something different each time. People have very expressive faces. Even when we try our best to conceal our emotions, they are often present on our faces anyway. Look in a mirror and act out how you think you look when you are bored, happy, annoyed, or excited.
Facial expressions can often be very subtle, and it can sometimes take a while to discern them. For example, when people are genuinely happy, they smile with their eyes. You can see their eyes get crinkly in the corners. At this early age, children are learning how to interact with others and how to recognize their feelings and needs, although they may not yet know how to apply empathy to all of their interactions.
Emotional Intelligence and Social Awareness
For instance, your child may not fully understand why a classmate gets upset when she takes a pencil away without asking for it. As your kids grow and become more socially aware, they should be able to better-identify how their actions make others feel. Keep in mind every child develops at his or her own pace. Research shows that those with higher social-emotional skills have better attention skills and fewer learning problems, and are generally more successful in academic and workplace settings. They may not always put empathy into action, however, as high-schoolers are very concerned about their social standing.
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This may lead your teen to criticize or hurt others in order to go along with the crowd. Keep in mind that all adolescents have different social and emotional tendencies and behaviors and develop at different rates. Research shows that those with higher social-emotional skills have better attention skills and fewer learning problems, and are generally more successful in academic and workplace settings. Like any math or English skills, these skills can be taught and grow over time.