Objectivity means that you’re able to step out of your way of thinking and take into consideration another person’s point of view. It helps a person judge without being partial to his own views or external influences.
Empathy means that you also step out of your own viewpoint and consider the other person’s. With empathy, you can become so mired in the other person’s problems that you can’t see things clearly and can’t be objective in your attempt to help others.
With too much empathy, you can drown in another person’s emotions and be unable to help them. But, seeing a situation as another sees it is invaluable to building relationships, both at work and in personal situations.
You may wonder – especially when you’re angry – how a person doesn’t see things like you do. Your beliefs may be so strong that you can’t be objective. Building your ability to be empathetic you can put yourself in that person’s shoes and see how he could think the way he does.
It’s difficult to overcome feelings of empathy toward another – especially if you’ve had the same experiences. For example, veterans who return from war with PTSD and other types of trauma may have a problem being objective to those who agree with the other side.
Objectivity is hard to come by when you’ve been hurt or when your emotions run high about certain subjects. It’s a challenge to some to be objective and empathetic at the same time, but it’s a good trait to have.
You’ve probably heard of judges who have to recuse themselves from a case because they can’t be objective about it. Perhaps one of the parties was a relative of the judge – or the judge may have been traumatized over a similar incident.
Judges are trained to be objective, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Juries are also chosen based on their ability to be objective. They’re often asked if they have ever been in a similar situation as the person on trial, which might cause them to be too empathetic and unable to render an objective decision.
Some people consider objectivity the same as neutrality. It represents a true independence from the emotions a person might feel about a situation and what he knows to be the truth.
By using emotional intelligence, people can usually balance their ability to be objective with their ability to be empathetic. Since emotional intelligence helps us to be more self-aware, we’re better able to realize when our empathy is interfering with our empathy or emotions.
When you begin to feel empathetic about a person or a situation, take a moment to ask yourself if you can also be objective. That will help you make the best decisions possible.