If you’re thinking about the value of empathy in your relationships and how you can cultivate some with friends, loved ones, and associates, then consider this. There has never been a more important time to share empathy than in the digital age.
Technology And Empathy
Each day, we are bombarded with messages at every turn. We hear from family members just as often as we hear from complete strangers who are trying to get us to buy things via email and private messages. That’s an awful lot of communication to wade through and what it does is produce stress. If we’re not careful, we can end up taking that stress out on the people closest to us.
Challenges of Empathy Online
Did you ever consider that carelessly typed words on the internet can make or break a single human being?
How do we extract the deeper meaning from the clamor of all these voices? How do we manage to feel a connection with others when, despite the electronic connection, we can still manage to feel so completely disconnected?
Email, texting, and social media messaging can be confusing, to say the least. In fact, it’s safe to say that the way that we interpret messages from other people largely depends on our own mood and how we’re feeling.
What if, every time we came across a written message on the internet that tweaked a nerve, we were to hear that message spoken, and see the person relay their message on a video (or how about actually in person)? How often do you think we’d come to discover that we were completely wrong about someone else’s intended meaning?
If you’re looking to enjoy kinder, closer relationships in the digital age, then you’d do well to focus on empathy in your online communication. In the same way that it’s so easy to use the written word to tear people down, we can also use it to make people feel good.
Tips For Communicating With Empathy Online
Don’t jump into discussions with hostility
Many people seem to use social media forums as a way to blow off steam and take out their aggressions of the day on innocent bystanders. Remember that this isn’t a game of pretend. Your carelessly placed words could deeply wound someone who, for their own reasons might be feeling bad about themselves today. Try to think of others before name-calling or spouting off about this or that.
Try to be emoji-aware
It’s kind of weird but true that emojis really help soften communication and eliminate confusion when conversing online. When you smile, it is a quizzical smile, a devilish smile, a mouth-open smile that’s close to laughing, or a bashful grin? Believe it or not, you can now choose from those and many more expressions to help you say what you mean without having to hunt for the perfect words.
Ask lots of questions
If someone is being vague online, you will do a better job of understanding and potentially helping them if you have all the facts upfront. This can only happen if you ask lots of questions. Pay close attention to the answer. See if more clarification is necessary.
Keep private conversations private
More and more people are using smartphones to snap screenshots of conversations that take place on their social media profiles and phones. Sometimes this information is used to make fun of, slander, or spread gossip about people. This can be considered rude, thoughtless, or even extremely hurtful in certain cases where the issue is emotionally charged.
If you feel that a private conversation should be discussed with a third party, try your best to stick to word of mouth rather than relaying written info which is sure to be taken the wrong way and hurt their feelings. Or, if you must share something that is causing you pain, or even just to blow off steam or poke a bit of fun, choose very carefully and very sparingly whom you share with as well as what you share. Use empathy to imagine what the person you are gossiping about might feel if it were to leak that you were making fun of or speaking badly of them.
A good friend who permits you to vent to them should have the ability and decency not to judge others no matter what you say about them. If they do judge, they may not be a good person to share with – so choose wisely.