Whether you call it empathy, insight, or the ability to understand another person’s perspective, it doesn’t have a nice ring to it. It sounds like something your parents and teachers preached to you for the sake of keeping a civil playground, and like any repeated message, it goes in one ear and out the other once you’ve heard it enough times.

What they don’t tell you is that a person who masters this skill (I call it skill rather than trait because it’s something you must practice to become proficient in), is a person who will increase the probability of getting what they want by ∞. Of course, “manipulation” is not something that’s encouraged by those around you, but let’s face it, manipulation is an integral part of living.

Whether your goal is bettering relationships with partners/family/friends, ending tiring arguments, winning debates, advancing your professional career, or improving overall happiness, becoming better at empathizing will be one of the most valuable tools you can add to your repertoire to achieve these goals.

  • Relationships: know what others expect of you and you will know how to meet/exceed those expectations.
  • Arguing: know what the other person is seeing that is resulting in the basis for why they’re arguing with you, and you will know how to end it.
  • Debating: understand the moral bedrock for why they have the stance they have, and you will know the route to go to point out the hypocrisy in their viewpoint.
  • Professional life: know what your bosses and fellow employees value and you will know how to please them to put yourself in a favourable light.
  • Happiness: having better relationships, fewer arguments, boosted ego by winning debates, and advanced professional life will undoubtedly lead to you being happier.

This is all true because of a very simple principle: all committed actions and chosen perspectives are justifiable – even if only to the one person you’re dealing with. Let me emphasize ALL.

Until you have lived through the life experiences of another person, then you will never be able to definitively say that you wouldn’t have done/thought/said the same. Understanding this fact is the first step. Accept this and you will liberate yourself from so much harmful negative energy that never would’ve done a productive thing for you. In fact, convince yourself that you would do the exact same thing as the other person because it’s most likely true.

Once you believe this, then you will know the very important answer to why people are the way they are, and more importantly, how they will respond to what you say to them.

Are you mad at your girlfriend for breaking up with you? Boss for firing you? Best friend for supporting the opposing political candidate? Brother for prioritizing his work over your monthly golf game? Once you truly master the art of empathizing, you will no longer walk around bearing the weight of these depressing thoughts.

Grasp this and you will know that the value in empathy is not for those around you, it’s for you.