Saturday, 6 July 2013

Is Empathy Trainable?

In one of the Training related e-groups, someone posted a question “Is Empathy Trainable?”

It evoked interesting responses- while most of the answers were affirmative, there were a few opined that Empathy is not trainable.

I thought it was an interesting question and it would be worthwhile to understand what Empathy is and what we understand by “Training”

Empathy is defined “as the capacity to recognize emotions that are experienced by other sentient or fictional being”. Empathy is a very powerful attribute or competence for those who especially are in the field of ‘human profession’- like management, counseling, mentoring, psychotherapist, healing, coaching, nursing etc.

Empathy is innately present in human beings and I’d dare say, that in some animals- it can be much more developed than human beings. Those who have pet dogs and (treat them well) may agree with my statement.

Empathy is to be discovered- it is to be explored. It cannot be shifted or transferred from one individual to another. One needs to suspend judgment, be in the same space of emotions and awareness of other being to empathize. Developing empathy is a powerful developmental experience for an individual.

If the ‘Empathy training’, has elements of exploration, discoveries, suspending judgment- being present completely with other person- then yes, Empathy can be trained.      

Would love to learn your views!

-          Rajesh

1 comment:

  1. Till I read what you have written, my thought was that Empathy cannot be trained. Unless one has experienced something one cannot empathize on it.

    Given the fact that you are empathetic as an individual, I must say you have explained it quite well!

    In my opinion empathy is a non-verbal language too. As rightly said by Alfred Adler “it is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.” True empathy is always free of any evaluative or diagnostic quality.

    If we find pets powered with it then as human beings we are more communicative and can for sure be trained.