Personal relationships: 3 practical keys to develop empathy

Connecting with the emotions of others, knowing how to put ourselves in their shoes, allows us to have better relationships and avoid unnecessary conflicts.

One proof that empathy is intrinsically human are mirror neurons, which are activated so that we can experience another person”s emotions firsthand.

In experiments carried out recently, it was shown with neuroimaging that, when witnessing someone in pain, the same point of pain lights up in our brain, as if we were feeling it. The emotion promoted by mirror neurons makes us deeply impressed by a car accident, for example, even if we have not suffered it ourselves.

And these neurons are also responsible for some people getting dizzy when they see other people”s blood. This neuroscientific key shows that we are empathic by nature and that, far from living by the law of the jungle, we care about and affect what happens to other people.


Empathy is an innate quality that can be enhanced by becoming aware that each human being is different and, at the same time, has similar emotional needs. Everyone wants to be loved, respected and understood, even if we do not always know how to express that desire adequately.

In the dictionary, empathy is defined as the “mental and affective identification of one subject with the state of mind of another” and, more informally, we say that it is the ability to put ourselves in the place of others.

The little people empathic clash with their surroundings and say things like “I never would have done that” or “being me, I would ” forgetting that this is a different human being, with its history, priorities and constraints.


In his talks to companies, although his message is transferable to others of such a small format such as a family, the speaker and author Alex Rovira often asks the question: “What unites us?” We are used to delving into our differences with other people, and those disagreements take up a lot of mental space in each of us.

However, to activate empathy we must focus on what each one has in common with the others.

Since it is a tool that we have incorporated “as standard”, empathy can be exercised through easy-to-apply measures.

If we follow these 3 steps in a conversation, we will achieve a greater emotional connection with our interlocutor.


Often we do not understand others because our mental chatter creates interference when judging what is being said or when we are already preparing a response before our interlocutor has finished speaking.


It is frustrating when we are opening up to someone and they cut us off saying, “Your problem is that”.

We will achieve a greater connection with others by reaching the end of the matter.


So that our interlocutor does not sit in a monologue, if we support his explanation by being interested in specific aspects of what he tells us, we will achieve a deeper communication.

In short, true empathy makes the other feel supported but not judged, because we have moved to their point of view.


Since we interact largely through language, the way we use it brings us closer to or further away from others.

A person with a lack of empathy will express his opinion without taking into account the emotions of the interlocutor, which can hurt him unnecessarily. It also causes a response that generates a new conflict.

The Nonviolent Communication (NVC) taught to use language to express our emotions and needs, avoiding pointing to the other so you feel attacked.

Practical case: instead of reprimanding our partner because every weekend he is working, and saying something like this: “You are inconsiderate. You only think about work and me being spanked”, according to the CNV we would say: “The last I”ve missed you on weekends. I would love for us to spend more time together. ”


The Uruguayan coach Mario Reyes explains in his courses a simple exercise to activate empathy towards the people in our family who have caused us resentment.

The negative experiences that often intertwine with love we feel for our parents, for example, do we cannot have a truly harmonious and compassionate relationship with them.

To heal what clouds our family relationship, even if those affected no longer live, this simple exercise in gratitude will put us in a different place with respect to it.

  1. Divide a page into three sections or three columns and decide who is going to be the object of your analysis. Title them in the following way: three virtues that I have learned from him / her, three defects that have irritated me about him / her, three virtues opposed to each defect of his / her.
  2. Cover the column or the center section and realize what you are thanks to that person: what you have learned by imitation, but also because you have developed the opposite virtue to the one you disliked.
  3. Close the exercise by thanking him with this phrase: “Dear, I thank you because you have taught me to be. And by reaction against what I did not like, you have taught me to be”.

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