Today I tipped the gas station attendant who filled my car's tank. I gave him $2, he gave me a smile and a thank you. I'm not normally a tipper so this was unusual for me.
I wasn't thinking about doing it beforehand, again, this is an example of going with my gut feelings at the moment. I started with the thought,'it's really cold out there' and the next thought was 'this guy's job sucks, he's out in this horrible weather' and then 'i'd like to buy him a cup of coffee' led to pulling out my wallet to give him the tip.
Later in the day, a coworker was sharing her troubles and I fell into trap #1 (comparing her problems with other people's) and trap #3 (trying to solve her problem) immediately. (Link to the traps article) I tried to come back to her later with an 'I'm sorry, that really sucks' comment but honestly I really think it was too little too late. It's hard to catch these things before they happen, but I'm going to keep trying.
What I see from the above stories (and something I've noticed about myself in general) is that how easy I have empathy to others seems to be related to how well I know them. That is, if I don't have a relationship with the person to RISK, it's easier for me to put myself out there. However, if I do have a relationship with them, well, then I'm scared, my defenses come up, and I shut down empathy.
What about you? Have you tried to build empathy, what has been your experience?
Do you tip frequently?
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