Harvard Psychiatrist Identifies 7 Skills to Help You Get Along With Anybody

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Empathy is the ability to understand how another person feels. According to new Harvard research in The Empathy Effect, it’s a trait that can be taught and developed. Build empathy and you’ll be a more effective entrepreneur and leader.

Author Helen Riess is a Harvard psychiatrist who has developed empathy training based on her research in neurobiology. Although her studies are done on health care professionals, the empathy traits she’s identified can be used to make stronger connections between you and your employees, customers, or peers in any field.

Here are the seven skills you need to develop E.M.P.A.T.H.Y.

E — Eye contact

In Western societies we say that “the eyes are the window to the soul.” Many cultures have a version of the same phrase. “Making eye contact is among the very first human experiences,” writes Riess.

Riess recommends that you hold meetings face-to-face as much as possible. It’ll help you pick up on nonverbal nuances that a person’s voice doesn’t convey. Also, when meeting people for the first time, maintain eye contact until you notice a person’s eye color. “That extra beat telegraphs the notion that you truly see them.”

M — Muscles for facial expression

Our brains are wired to automatically mimic facial expressions. When someone smiles at you, you almost always smile back. It’s an automatic response. But you’re also wired to tell the difference between a fake smile — just turning up the lips — and the “Duchenne smile,” a genuine smile of happiness. Muscles in the face rarely lie. Pay attention.

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