How Empathy Can Reduce Your Anger

Jim, a 42-year old engineer was teaching his eight-year-old son how to fly a radio-controlled airplane. As the airplane was taking off, Jim instructed his son to push the control stick on the radio to the right. He did and the airplane turned to the right.

This was repeated several more times until the airplane turned full circle toward the son, ready to land. "Push the stick to the right," said Jim. This time, however, the plane turned left. "Push the stick left," Jim said. Now the plane turned right, as if it suddenly had a mind of its own.

"I'm confused," said the son. "How do I know which way to push the stick when the plane behaves differently depending on if it's flying away from me or toward me?"

"It's simple," said Jim. "Simply imagine you're in the plane and push the stick accordingly." This cured the problem.

What a great lesson in empathy - the ability to experience the world from another perspective, often the perspective of another person.

As an anonymous English author wrote: "To empathize is to see with the eyes of another, to hear with the ears of another, and to feel with the heart of another."

Why is empathy important? The real world bottom line is that lack of empathy leads to poor communication and a failing to understand others. Lack of empathy leads to all sorts of problems in our world. Nations go to war, people are killed, couples divorce - all for a lack of empathy and understanding.

It is natural to become angry when frustrated or irritated with people who do or say things at variance with our worldview.

To manage anger, it often helps to see our anger as a combination of their behavior and our lack of empathy. While we cannot control other's thoughts, feelings or behaviors, we most certainly can increase our empathy skills.

To control our anger with increased empathy, three basic skills are required: listening, self-awareness and acceptance.

Empathic listening is a type of listening that goes further than ordinary listening. This type of listening uses another person's point of view to see the world as others see it. It provides a higher level of understanding of how others feel.

Self-awareness occurs as you better understand your own thoughts and feelings. You are then better able to understand the thoughts and feelings of someone else. The more open we are to our own feelings, the more skilled we become at reading someone else's feelings, and generally the less angry we feel toward them.

Acceptance, on the other hand, is the ability to see that others have a right to their "ridiculous" feelings. We must allow people to have feelings without telling them how they should feel. W cannot stop others from having feelings.

Empathic people understand that feelings are difficult to control. When we accept others as they are, it simply means that we understand that they are doing the best they can at the time. Remember, if they could do any better, they probably would.

Acceptance of others' feelings is not easy when people act differently than we do. We all have difficulty with those who are different. By learning the skill of empathy, we will be better able to understand ourselves and others.

Here are five simple rules to be more empathetic.

1. Pay attention to the feelings that others express. Watch for both verbal and nonverbal clues. Try to understand the message behind the words and actions.

2. Place the feelings of other's ahead of your own. Put aside your own needs and ideas long enough to listen to another's point of view.

3. Communicate your understanding. Respond or give answers to the messages you receive to show you understand them.

4. Do not interrupt. Let speakers finish what they are saying before you talk.

5. Ask for more information. If you still don't understand, ask more questions until you fully understand.

About The Author

Dr. Tony Fiore is a So. California licensed psychologist, and anger management trainer. His company, The Anger Coach, provides anger and stress management programs, training and products to individuals, couples, and the workplace. Sign up for his free monthly newsletter "Taming The Anger Bee" at and receive two bonus reports.

More Resources

Unable to open RSS Feed $XMLfilename with error HTTP ERROR: 404, exiting

More Coaching Information:

Related Articles

The Power of Effective Coaching Skills
The most valuable assets of a 20th century company were its production equipment. The most valuable assets of a 21st century organization ? will be its knowledge, workers and their productivity.
Success Coaching - What Bill Gates and You Should Have In Common
He was just a teenager, but he was already displaying the powerful habits that would one day make him a billionaire.I had to dart down to Atlanta on Monday for a business meeting with a partner of mine and grabbed a new book to read on the plane.
Control, Helplessness, and Love
During my 35 years of counseling individuals, couples, families and business partners, I have discovered that an important purpose of our controlling behavior in our relationships is to avoid the feeling of helplessness. One of the hardest feelings to feel is helplessness.
Use a Journal for Self-Discovery and Self-Expression
As a therapist, I often suggest to clients that they explore their feelings and thoughts by keeping a journal. Sometimes clients ask for a bit of direction with this process.
The Need to Feel Special
From the time Jennifer was a little child, she was demanding of attention, especially from her mother, Sarah. With two older brothers, Jennifer had a "special" place in the family as the baby and the only girl.
Finding Peace: A Taste of Mindfulness
When we are ill and don't know it, we are in a state of ignorance or delusion. We don't view ourselves as sick, so we don't believe it's necessary to go to a doctor or take any medication.
Ch-Ch-Chain of Hearts: Cranking Up Compassion
Can you hear your compassion? It's time to crank it up.One of the most difficult challenges we face in our quest to be compassionate is dealing with conflict.
A Numbers Game!
Three years ago, Paul left his corporate job to launch his freelance writing career, and he's done relatively well. He has a group of regular clients that keep him going, and they are happy with his work.
Your Past and Present Hold Key to Your Future
Knowing more about who you are will give you the insight for your future goals.Where are you going?This isn't about location.
Transitions: Moving Through Change With Grace
MOVING THROUGH CHANGECreating any major change in our lives can also create feelings of discomfort. Tiredness, confusion, and uncertainty are among the many emotions that can be experienced.
HR Professional in New Avtaar: HR as a Coach and Mentor
IntroductionThese days in corporate sector, everybody is talking about the role of HR professional as a coach and mentor. People are exited as well as confused.
Some Business Coaches are in Error
Many business coaches deny the power of suggestion while using it. For instance a corporate inner circle will be told that they have inner conflicts with ethical practice due to the stockholders coming first, the customers coming second and employees coming third.
Coaching Prime Time
An awful lot of fantastic coaching has been coming out of Hollywood lately, have you noticed? Whether it's  Morgan Spurlock's feature film debut "Supersize Me"..
Is Your Life Coach Manipulating You? Five Signs to Watch For
Did you hire a "life coach" to help you sort out your complicated existence? The coach is a growing occupational choice for folks who feel the call to lead others who may feel overwhelmed or wish for personal fulfillment but don't know where to begin.As someone who belongs to entrepreneur networks, I've come across quite a few life coaches.
Why a Self Help Book May Not Help You
For a self help book to work, we have to read right it through to the end. While this may seem like a no-brainer, many people never finish reading books that they buy.
How to Kill Fear When Dealing with Aggressive People
The book Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers is regarded as a self help classic. Have you read it?I read it many years ago and I was disappointed by the content of this book that has helped a lot of people take control of their fears.
Coaching Skills for Peers: Extending Influence
Many people think of coaching solely as a management technique. Although coaching skills provide managers with the means to get business results while creating solid relationships, the value of coaching in other arenas is often overlooked.
Ten Benefits of Having a Relationship Coach
As a Master Certified Relationship Coach, I work with singles to help them attract a great match and with couples to help put their relationships back on track. I hear great feedback from my clients about the value of coaching.
Boost Your Self-Esteem
What Is Self-Esteem?Self-esteem literally means to esteem, or respect, yourself. Having high self-esteem means that you have a positive image of yourself.
Viewpoints - Communication Destruction Or....
Viewpoints! Everyone has them and they are personal. However, when you believe that only your view is correct, you shut out other people and do not listen to the facts they are giving.