mother adn child walking along train tracks

Do you respond with emapthy?

When a colleague or direct report opens up to you about feeling overstretched and tired how do you respond? Do you respond with empathy or do you shut off as you have your own stuff to deal with?

Empathy is one of the 12 Gifts to lead and be a Limitless Leader™ and the word actually comes from the German word  “Euinfühlung” which means “feeling in”.

Many confuse empathy with sympathy with the key difference being…

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself

Mahsin Hamid

Expressing the gift of empathy is vital in any role, interaction or relationship and what I have noticed is many people think they do “empathy” but how many are truly feeling in?

Mastering empathy as a leader is a critical skill.

Six key things we need to do to experience empathy:

  • Listen through their ears
    • What are they hearing?
    • How might they interpret this?
  • Get in their head
    • What might they be thinking?
    • What logic might they be using to interpret the situation?
  • Notice their words
    • What are they saying?
    • What defining words, quotes and insights stand out?
  • View things through their eyes
    • What are they seeing?
    • How does this tie in to their lens view of the world?
  • Feel through their heart
    • What emotions may they be feeling?
    • How does this impact on their actions?
  • Watch their actions
    • What are they doing?
    • What are you noticing about their actions and body language?

By tuning in and literally almost physically experiencing what others may be going through you will have the closest chance to really understanding the other person and “feeling in” to what is going on. Hence, experiencing true and deep empathetic connection.

Think about a time someone has really empathised with you, what did you notice and how did you feel? Key moments of another showing empathy towards me stand out and although I can’t articulate their words I do remember how that made me feel.

When have you experienced empathy? As always I’d love to hear your thoughts.