Behavioural empathy is the action of helping others and is sometimes called compassionate empathy. It involves not only sharing their emotion or distress to some degree, but to also consider from their perspective, why they might feel that way or how they might be perceiving a situation. In addition behavioural empathy is linked with an action – taking the practical steps to help someone. It involves a mixture of emotions of both feeling others possible distress whilst also still feeling resourceful in oneself and a desire to offer actionable help.
Through such helping behaviour it not only reduces other people’s emotional distress but it implicitly communicates we care and value them. Furthermore, we now understand that the additional significant benefit of such empathetic compassion is that it reduces our own levels of distress. Research now suggests that feeling both cared for and caring for others has a significant beneficial impact on both our mental and physical health. Behavioural empathy does not mean taking on responsibility for resolving others problems, rather it is about creating a supportive climate with pro-social behaviour that enables people and groups to adapt and flourish.
Interestingly empathetic behaviour has been shown to facilitate a mirroring effect on those who receive such help or support (in which they wish to reciprocate such helping behaviour).This not only reduces possible emotional distress and increases trust, but it also builds those relationships through shared experiences.Through engaging in such social support we can improve morale and motivation. It also aids us in reducing interpersonal conflict and underlying resistance within teams of people, whilst enhancing collaboration and creativity. By understanding such implicit benefits and learning how to increase empathetic intent, it can establish a new climate and mindset in which understanding and helping others is at the forefront of our minds.
Increasing our empathetic sensitivity and intent to help others, by considering the challenges and obstacles they may face, implicitly primes our brains to respond with compassionate empathy or helping behaviour.