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What's Empathy Got to Do With It?: How to Exercise Your Thinking and Feeling Muscles

How to develop empathy

  • Truly listen to people. Pay attention to their body language, tone of voice, emotions behind what they are saying to you, and to the context.
  • Don't interrupt people. Don't dismiss their concerns offhand. Don't rush to give advice.
  • Practice the "93 percent rule". Words account for only 7 percent of the total message that people receive. The other 93 percent of the message is contained in our tone of voice and body language.
  • Use people's name. Also, remember the names of people's spouses and children.
  • Be fully present when you are with people.
  • Encourage people, particularly the quiet ones, when they speak up in meetings.
  • Give genuine recognition and praise. Pay attention to what people are doing and praise them
  • Take a personal interest in people. Show people genuine curiosity about their lives.

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What's Empathy Got to Do With It?: How to Exercise Your Thinking and Feeling Muscles

What's Empathy Got to Do With It?: How to Exercise Your Thinking and Feeling Muscles

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_75.htm

mindtools.com

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Key Ideas

Empathy

Empathy means seeing things through someone else's eyes. It is an essential component that keeps relationships running smoothly. It allows us to create bonds of trust, gives insights into another's situation, helps to understand why others are reacting to situations.

Studies have shown that patients who had damage to part of the brain associated with empathy showed a lack of relationship skills, even though their reasoning and learning abilities stayed unaffected.

Empathy in the business world

There are many studies that link empathy to business results. Empathy is correlated with increased sales, performance of the best managers of product development teams, and with enhanced performance in a diverse workforce.

It is predicted that those with a strong right-brain (interpersonal) qualities will have the upperhand in the Conceptual Age.

Reasons why empathy is important

Dr. Daniel Goleman gives three reasons why empathy is so important:

  • The increased use of teams (that could spark different emotions.)
  • The rapid pace of globalization (with cross-cultural communication that could lead to misunderstanding)
  • The growing need to retain talent.

Leaders with empathy do more than sympathize with people - they use their knowledge to improve their companies in skillful and subtle ways.

Where empathy comes from

Empathy is a process of thinking and emotion.

  • We need our reasoning skills to understand another person's thoughts, feelings, reactions, concerns, and motives.
  • We need the emotional capacity to care for that person's concern. We don't have to always agree with the person but should acknowledge their thoughts, feelings, or concerns.

How to develop empathy

  • Truly listen to people. Pay attention to their body language, tone of voice, emotions behind what they are saying to you, and to the context.
  • Don't interrupt people. Don't dismiss their concerns offhand. Don't rush to give advice.
  • Practice the "93 percent rule". Words account for only 7 percent of the total message that people receive. The other 93 percent of the message is contained in our tone of voice and body language.
  • Use people's name. Also, remember the names of people's spouses and children.
  • Be fully present when you are with people.
  • Encourage people, particularly the quiet ones, when they speak up in meetings.
  • Give genuine recognition and praise. Pay attention to what people are doing and praise them
  • Take a personal interest in people. Show people genuine curiosity about their lives.

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Emotional Intelligence Matters
EQ is not only the ability to identify and manage your own emotions, but it’s also the ability to recognize the emotions of others.
Manage your negative emotions
When you’re able to manage and reduce your negative emotions, you’re less likely to get overwhelmed. 

If someone is upsetting you, don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, allow yourself to look at the situation in a variety of ways. Try to look at things objectively so you don’t get riled up as easily. 

Be mindful of your vocabulary

Emotionally intelligent people tend to use more specific words that can help communicate deficiencies, and then they immediately work to address them. 

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Zeno of Citium

“We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.”

Zeno of Citium
Good listening

Good listening doesn't follow a technique as much as being willing to enter into another person's life.

Listening through the screen of your own desires means that you are listening to your own voice and desires. It is the same as not listening at all. Listening demands wiping the slate of your mind clean.

Not knowing what to say

Not knowing what to say when someone confides in you is a daunting feeling. However, we feel that way because we mistakenly think the person reaching out is asking for an explanation.

It is more important just to be there, so the other person doesn't feel alone.

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Great Leaders

Knowledge, smarts and vision are characteristic of a great leader. Add to these the ability to identify and monitor emotions (your own and others) and to manage relationships. 

Qual...

Self-Awareness
  • Realistic self-confidence: You recognize your own abilities and shortcomings; you operate from competence and know when to rely on someone else.
  • Emotional insight: You are aware of your own feelings. You can identify the cause of the emotions to help you manage them.
Self-Management
  • Resilience: You know how to stay calm under pressure and can recover quickly from upsets. 
  • Emotional balance: You can control any distressful feelings without blowing up at people.
  • Self-motivation: You keep moving toward long-term goals despite setbacks.

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