Archive for April, 2012

How Empathic Are You? Take the Quiz and Find Out. Empathy is Important in Relationships!

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Do you know what empathy is?  It is different than sympathy.  Empathy is the ability to join with another emotionally to understand that person’s feelings, desires, ideas, and actions.  It’s the “walk a mile in my shoes” descriptor. Sympathy is different. It is more about feeling sorry for someone, perhaps pity. It can be condescending to another.

Empathy is a part of being attuned with another. It is a connecting experience. Communicating your empathy to another helps to forge a deeper bond with that person. The person feels closer to you when you express empathy for they sense that you truly understand the depth of what is going on with him or her in a given emotion laden situation. That is what attunement is all about.

Dr. Mark Davis of EasterIllinoisUniversity hasconstructed tests to measure empathy. His findings have been published in the Journal of Personality.  Here is a quiz adapted from his work.  Give it a try.

Answer the following tenquestions with one of these five:

a) Not at all     b) Somewhat  c) a good deal  d) very much  e) exactly

1. In emergencies I get emotional.

2. Even when I’m pretty sure I’m right, I’m patient enough to listen to other people’s arguments.

3. I feel deeply for the characters in tearjerker movies.

4. When I am with a depressed person, I become uncomfortable and it is difficult for me to talk.

5. I feel uneasy when someone I know casually tells me about a personal problem.

6. When a disagreement with someone becomes intense, I can’t deal with it at the time.

7. Others have said I am soft-hearted.

8. I daydream about things (good and bad) that might happen to me.

9. The true answer to the great majority of issues is not clearly black or white – usually the truth is somewhere in between.

10. I feel sad when I see a lonely stranger in a group.

To tally your score give yourself 0 point for each “a” response, 1 point for each “b” response, 2 points for each “c) response, 3 points for each “d” response, and 4 points for each “e” response.

A score of 25-40 points:  Your empathy level is high.  You are able to understand how others feel and offer them your support in a considerate manner.

A score of 12-24 points: You have an average level of empathy.  You can be made to understand how someone else is feeling, but you don’t always sense it right away.

A score of 0-11 points: You exhibit low levels of empathy.  You find it hard to identify with others and can’t relate to how they are feeling unless you are in a similar situation.

Well, what did you find out?

Truthfully I am not all that enamored with this quiz as a measure of one’s empathic ability, but it was the best one I could locate.  The purpose of this article and of the quiz is to encourage you to ask yourself whether or not you are an empathic person.  Ask a few special people in your life to give you feedback. You might even ask them to rate you on a one to ten scale, with ten being very empathic.

If you want to connect with a person at a deeper level, empathy is imperative.  If it is a challenge for you it is worth the time to reach out to someone who can bring it out in you. Sometimes, you have to deal with some inner emotional pain that currently is buried and defensed.  This defense both protects you and stifles you in terms of a deeper connection with yourself and with another.  If you address this issue the ultimate payoff is well worth it!