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Empathic curiosity doesn’t necessarily mean putting yourself in someone else’s Shoes. The practice is about expressing curiosity about the thoughts and feelings of other people. This also includes curiosity about the reason they have those thoughts and feelings.

Source: World Economic Forum/Youtube

It’s no surprise that health care professionals have been through so much in the last few years amid the pandemic. A study at the end of 2021 on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health found that 74 percent of health care professionals reported feeling depressed, and 75 percent said they suffered from anxiety. Fifteen percent even reported that they had thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Practicing empathic curiosity might be able to help care providers manage their stress and make for a better workplace. The practice includes asking about the patient’s unique experiences and asking, “tell me more.” This is a great way to improve the doctor-patient relationship and work as a team. The better you know someone, the better you can work together.

So many workers have been pushed to their limits amid the pandemic and are feeling burnt out, so it might seem like an impossible task to express empathy. Empathic curiosity doesn’t mean feeling the patient’s suffering. It just means remaining curious and having the patient feel like you care. Often hospitals and other offices can be so busy, that many patients feel like they’re just another number on that worker’s to-do list.

Source: TEDx Talks/Youtube

A study found that medical students who practiced cognitive and emotional empathy had higher levels of empathy over time. Although it might seem like a difficult habit to start, it will get easier over time, and it will become second nature.

There have been countless studies showing the benefits of empathy in patient-doctor relationships. A study of 710 cancer patients found that empathy could help prevent patients’ depression. It’s amazing what can be done when we feel like others care and are curious about our lives.

According to the Washington Post, here are some expert-backed tips for healthcare workers to practice empathic curiosity:

Practice self-awareness: Being aware of how your mindset is in the field is incredibly helpful when it comes to practicing empathy. Studies show that a curious mindset can help healthcare providers with self-reflection and emotional regulation. Changing your mindset can lead providers to approach situations with curiosity instead of dread.

Find peer Support: It’s important to try to get the community around you to participate as well. Workers often feel supported most by their peers when something negative happens in the workplace. Research has shown that receiving empathy helps physicians provide that empathy back to their patients.

Immerse yourself in stories: practicing empathic curiosity will teach you so much about others. Reading stories or poetry or even watching movies and TV can help put yourself in other people’s Shoes and appreciate numerous different perspectives.

Generous Listening: Always listen to your patient and never make it seem like you are trying to get them to stop talking. Let your patients tell their stories, and in turn, you will learn so many things you never knew before, making for a much better relationship with your patient.

All of these tips are amazing for healthcare workers, but these are things that can be useful to everyone. Empathy is an important component of every relationship in our life, and it’s important to know that others have curiosity about our lives, so we should express this to them as well.

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