Why read about empathy when you can watch RSA Animate short clip below?
For those are not aware of RSA Animate, think of TED Talks but drawings or animations instead. The ones I have seen are good, really good.
I frequently say during my trainings, workshops, and lectures that empathy is one of the most important words not only in crisis and hostage negotiation incidents but in life in general.
Not only is it an important word, but the importance is pointless unless it is understood and practiced daily. Empathy is a tool, when used genuinely, that can help a crisis hostage negotiator be effective in assisting people that are involved in a crisis.
Remember empathy, as the video explains, is not the same as sympathy.
Empathy is what shows we are not "full of it" but rather we actually want to work collaboratively with the subject while also it is what makes active listening effective. The contrast is just letting the person talk while not engaging in any of the active listening skills here. Empathy is critical to building rapport, developing trust, and being charismatic to guide the subject to reappraise their situation and seek out alternatives to resolving the situation.
Instead of me writing more (I can do that in another post!), enjoy the short clip below: