People give a lot of credit to others for the ability to emphasize. But when they talk about empathy, they usually refer to the ability to feel sadness along with others. The ability to feel sad because someone you know feels sad.
This form of empathy is oversized and overvalued.
The truly valuable aspect of empathy is much less common, it is the ability to adopt someone else’s perspective and appreciate their point of view. To overcome simple frustration or emotion that comes from your limited perspective and see the situation you are in from the viewpoint of everyone who is involved.
This is a skill that typically comes from age and experience. Building relationships with friends, partners, and co-workers give you the experience to learn that to get what you want you to need to understand what other people want.
But it is not a secret power. Empathy is a habit of thinking and something you can choose to make a part of how you analyze and understand situations. As a young professional looking to build a career, there is incredible value in consciously choosing to view your interactions from the perspective of the people you are interacting with.
Imagine that you are the person conducting the job interview you are about to interview for, what would make you want to hire someone?
Imagine you are the person making a job offer, how quickly would you want someone to respond to your emails?
Imagine you are the coworker who just gave you constructive feedback, how frustrating it might be that you’ve delayed a project?
This simple trick of taking time to view a situation from another perspective will take almost no time but will give you incredible insight into how to approach confusing situations and get what you want in the long-term.
A great example of this powerful form of empathy is Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones and his ability to change perspective and understand what other people want: