January 31, 2019

Building Empathy

Loren Brockhouse

Loren Brockhouse
SVP Strategy /Businessolver

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"There is no other skill like empathy for learning how to connect deeply with other people."

 

The greatest human desire is to be understood and people are understood through empathy. One can argue that empathy is the most important skill you can practice. Let’s agree on what empathy is: the emotional understanding of the feelings of another; you don’t judge them and try to fix the problem; it’s a type of thinking. Now that we have a definition, let’s switch gears and answer the following questions: Why practice empathy and how to practice empathy.

Why

  1. Empathy leads to professional success, personal success, and greater overall life satisfaction.
  2. Gain more respect by treating people the way they want to be treated.
  3. Understand what other people want and need.
  4. Understand how others see and perceive you.
  5. See the World from multiple perspectives.
  6. Learn how to manage conflicts through empathy

There is no other skill like empathy for learning how to connect deeply with other people. Ok, I am sold, now tell me how I can practice empathy!

How

  1. Practicing empathy creates more satisfying relationships in your life!
    1. Vulnerable – as Patrick Lencioni says in Getting Naked you must humanize your interactions. Admit when you don’t know.
    2. Rapport – practice and learn to appreciate the need to build relationships before interactions and transactions.
    3. Respect – practice being open-minded. Don’t judge people. Explore their thoughts and Why.
    4. Trust – Pay it forward. Give what you want.
    5. Interdependence – Together we can do more. Synergize with others on as many tasks as you can.
    6. Mutual Expectations – Create plans to explore and include expectations from everyone involved.
  2. Reverse Golden Rule – Treat others as they want to be treated. To do this, you must first understand how they want to be treated. This understanding is empathy.
  3. Builds your self-esteem – practicing empathy will fill your love jar and you will be able to shift your focus and energy to others.
  4. Make connections – be an active listener / non-judge-mental / ask questions to check your perceptions / realize differences.
  5. Manage conflicts through empathy. Have you ever had a disagreement where it wasn’t emotional and you actually changed your position as a result of the conversation. Most likely empathy was used very effectively by the other party!
    1. Active listening / be open to their emotions / ask questions.
    2. Honor your own perspective while honoring others. Don’t give in, that isn’t practicing empathy.
    3. Find the heart of what needs to be changed and change it.
    4. Offer ideas in the form of questions – find the point where you agree and ask for agreement.

Like any skill set, empathy can be developed. It will take an intentional plan. You will face obstacles along the way, but the reward is so worth it. I challenge you to make empathy part of your personal development plan and that of everyone you work with!

Comments? You can contact me directly via my ExecRanks profile.

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