5 Questions to
Develop Your Empathy in 2023:

Increase empathy for yourself and others with these check-in questions


Empathy is one of the most important skills for developing healthy relationships with others, and a critical component of emotional intelligence. In this video, Six Seconds CEO Joshua Freedman explains 5 questions you can ask yourself or others to develop your empathy:

Here’s a summary of the video’s key points:

What Is Empathy?

Six Seconds defines empathy as recognizing and appropriately responding to others’ emotions – here’s a full definition. It’s an emotional connection between people; a space you co-create with others. Empathy is one of the most important skills for developing healthy relationships with others.

There are 3 parts of empathy: a cognitive part, an emotional part, and an action part, and these 5 questions help us grow empathy for ourselves and others by bringing out each component.

5 Questions to Develop Your Empathy

Ask yourself or your clients these 5 questions to elicit cognitive and emotional empathy – and take empathic actions. These questions come from the EQ Coach Cards deck, which you can find here: https://products.6seconds.org/shop/eq-coach-cards/.

1. What mix of feelings do you have now?

The typical pattern is to try to reduce our feelings down to one thing, eg, How are you? But that does not match up with most people’s emotional realities, which are often multilayered and complex. When you ask, “What mix of feelings do you have now?”, you stay open and curious to whatever that person is experiencing, and will be able to connect more meaningfully.

2.  What need is underneath the feelings?

A key part of true empathy is understanding that there’s more going on than what’s visible on the surface, as discussed in this article. When we dig deeper into the needs driving the feelings, we validate those feelings – our own or others’ – and open ourselves up to finding out what’s really going on.

3.  Do you have choices?

The ability to see a situation from multiple perspectives is a critical component of empathy. Ask yourself or others: Do you have choices? Are there other perspectives? Are there other ways to look at it? This non-judgmental stance opens us up to empathy.

4.  Do you need others in order to achieve your purpose?

This question connects our relationship with others to our most deeply held goals. When we recognize that we need others to help us to do what we really want, we look at empathy – this driver of connection – in a whole new light.

5.  What empathy can you give yourself?

Don’t just focus your empathy externally. We know from our own research at Six Seconds that when people feel more in touch with their own emotions, they are able to connect more meaningfully with others. As mentioned earlier, empathy isn’t just something you give or take; it’s a shared space. Is there an area of your life where you deserve more empathy?

Interested in the EQ Coach Cards that these questions come from? You can learn more and buy your own deck here: https://products.6seconds.org/shop/eq-coach-cards/

Increase Empathy in the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence

In the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence, there are 8 competencies, and Increase Empathy is one of those competencies. This model has been used for over 25 years as a way to measure and improve emotional intelligence. Check out the video or this page to learn more: https://www.6seconds.org/2010/01/27/the-six-seconds-eq-model/

You may also like…