Take a Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes: How Empathy Can Help

What did this patient need? Empathy. Empathy is what helps us to better understand what another person is experiencing, or, as the old saying puts it, to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. Social determinants of health—where you live, your income, your community and social network, your level of education and your access to health care—contribute to overall health and wellbeing…

Developing Empathy

These suggestions are a few steps you can take now to increase your empathy:

  • First and foremost, learn to listen when someone is talking to you. …
  • Communicate. …
  • Keep a journal to record your feelings and observationsAn article in Nursing Times provides detailed suggestions for keeping a journal.
  • Act as if. Even when you aren’t capable of empathizing, acting as if you are may be perceived by the patient as empathy. You also may be able to act your way into actually feeling empathetic.
  • Get to know the community around you. The more kinds of people you know, the better you will be able to understand those you come in contact with through your work.
  • Educate yourself in the arts. Music, literature and the visual arts are centered on who we are as human beings and how we interact, which is the basis of empathy.
  • Practice compassion. Be kind, express gratitude and go out of your way to help others as much as you can.
  • Understand the difference between pity and empathy…