An empathetic connection is the first step needed to take compassionate action. But at the same time, just because you’re connecting with someone doesn’t mean you necessarily need to jump into the fray.
First, you need to take stock of your own emotional state. Consider whether you can take on someone else’s request. If you decide you can, the next step is determining what level is appropriate. Sometimes the only action needed is a simple acknowledgement; “Hey, I’m here for you. We can talk whenever you want.”
If someone is distressed, ask yourself, “Am I able to connect with this person right now?” If it’s urgent, then maybe you can create the time to be fully present. If you measure your capacity and don’t have it – it’s okay to say no. State a boundary and then offer an alternative. That might sound like, “I hear you’re distressed, but I’m not available right now. Can we connect in two hours?”
Actively working on our empathy skills means we’re taking a conscious step toward finding harmony with those around us. It allows us to build deeper social connections and have new experiences. Developing further emotional intelligence and an awareness of others is something that we all could – and should – strive to achieve.