Recognizing and Understanding How Other People Feel – An Empathic Approach to Success

By , November 7, 2012 4:17 pm

“Empathic people are superb at recognizing and meeting the needs of clients, customers and subordinates. They seem approachable, wanting to hear what people have to say. They listen carefully, picking up on what people are truly concerned about, and they respond on the mark.”

 ~ Daniel Goleman, Author

Thinking that you can do everything yourself is a myth. Our own power actually comes from the self-awareness that we can’t be in control of everything. We must depend on and interact with others if we want to succeed.

Relationships are an essential part of our daily life and work. The quality and effectiveness of our connection with others makes a huge difference to our success as a people manager, coach or business owner.

Do you genuinely care about the people that you work with?

Your clients? Your team? Your colleagues? Your customers?

The relationship is important, but it’s often ignored, not considered or neglected. Many of us have heavy workloads and pressure, which limits the time available to focus on building relationships. Instead we focus on WHAT needs to be DONE. Empathy and rapport are seen as luxuries. It’s quicker to make assumptions and fill in the gaps, especially if you feel you are the expert in the conversation.

This can leave the other person feeling manipulated and not listened to, even attacked.

I’ve known leaders who use a telling style and jump straight in with a solution, once they get a glimmer of an idea about what the other person is talking about (even if its not wanted!).

You may start a conversation about a topic and the other person railroads it, taking over to share their example or experience, with little interest for what you have to say. The conversation ALWAYS ends up about them… (Does this sound familiar?!).

This is what I call the ‘me’ Factor: Minus Empathy!

‘I’m going to talk about me…then I’d like you to talk about me!’

Talking all about me creates a lack of trust, openness and honesty. It’s usually when our ego kicks in to help build us up and make us feel more superior.

No one wants to listen to someone who is ONLY interested in themselves, their issues or their achievements.  It drains the other person, who gets tired of listening and walks away.

One of the essential elements of Self-Leadership is empathy.

Empathy is created from self-awareness:

1. Stepping back and knowing what it’s like being on the receiving end of you… Being attuned to your inner signals.

2. Developing the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and view things from their map of the world.

Here are some tips on using a coaching style to create empathy if you want to build better relationships and empowering experiences for your clients, team or customers:

  1. Listen first before reacting or jumping in with feedback or solutions, allowing the conversation to flow. Listen with an intent to understand, not respond. This is the greatest gift you can give to someone.
  2. Focus on their intention, not yours. What is important to them? A good question to ask yourself is: ‘Am I making this about me or about them?’
  3. Be Authentic. Any advice given is genuinely in the interest of the other person and you’re not trying to manipulate them to your agenda, or fit them into your model of thinking.
  4. See their potential to work it out for themselves with your support. Hold that space encouraging and motivating them to think for themselves and own their solutions.
  5. Show you care by communicating that you believe in them. Demonstrate that you prepared to invest time in what they have to say. Be fully present and they will sense that you care. They’ll open up more and relax, the conversation will flow easily and they’ll feel motivated and accountable for their results.

Self-awareness and empathy together help you to become an authentic leader. You create a genuine sense that you truly want to hear the other person’s thoughts and concerns and that you understand them.

 

3 Responses to “Recognizing and Understanding How Other People Feel – An Empathic Approach to Success”

  1. Gail Kenny says:

    You might be interested in Karla McLaren’s work. She is writing a book on Empathy now and has been including some content in her blog: http://karlamclaren.com/

  2. Aizada Khalimbetova says:

    yes, many things sound familiar for me.

    I can use your tips on using a coaching style with my relatives as well

    Thank you so much

  3. ElaineBailey says:

    Gail – Thanks for the link!

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