Monday, August 14, 2023

Empathising With the Reader

Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.

Alfred Adler.

Essentially empathy means putting yourself in someone else's shoes and understanding how it feels to be there.

There are two sides to empathy:

Emotional Empathy

This is to do with your own emotional sensibilities that enable you to have an understanding of how your fellow man feels in situtations throughout life.

Cognitive Empathy

The ability to understand someone else's perspective.

Life's rich experiences help all of us understand how others are feeling, which makes empathy an interesting tool to use when you write.

Why Empathy Matters in Writing

If your aim is to evoke feelings in your audience then you need to make sure they're the right ones.  

That is to say, if you're making an argument on a particular subject and it's controversial, then you can expect a certain amount of anger to come from your audience.  This could turn your readers against you, or you could end up finding people just like you who have the same belief system.

Some people might walk away and never return to your writing and others may want to find out more.  If you do decide to go down that route make sure that your thoughts and feelings are true to who you are, and that it's not a flash in the pan used to get more clicks, because your audience will work that one out pretty quickly.

People like to hear about other people's vulnerabilities because it's something they can relate to at the end of the day.

Using Plain Language

As I've talked about in a previous blog post, plain language is one of the best ways to get your message across.  Plain language is more easily digested by the reader which will help the reader understand the points you're making, which in turn will help you look more credible as a writer.

Drawing on Your Own Experiences

You can make your writing as powerful as you like if you start drawing on your own life experiences.  

Have you ever wondered why the older generation of writers write so well?

It's because they're looking back at their own experiences and bringing those thoughts and emotions to life.

Three Ways to Fuse Empathy Into Your Writing

1. Admit Your Own Imperfections

Nobody's perfect, and we all hate admitting our flaws. Seeing yourself in someone else's shoes, and showing their flaws is a simple way to keep your audience interested.

2. Stand In Someone Else's Shoes

Put yourself in someone else's shoes and start seeing the complexities of their life.

3. Start Asking Questions

Questions are a useful tool for nonfiction and fiction writers alike.  You can use questions to build up a picture of your characters or a subject you feel needs a different point of view.

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