Empathy Protects You From Being a Jerkhole
Boldness, toughness, and grit are great leadership qualities, but empathy makes them effective.
Apart from empathy, leaders are jerkholes.
Empathy is stepping into someone’s experience.
- Empathy is laughing when someone laughs and crying when someone cries.
- Empathy is understanding why someone thinks the way they think.
- Empathy inspires courage in others.
Empathy honors and validates people. Lack of empathy ignores emotional states. When a colleague is excited about a small win, lack of empathy ignores or belittles it. “That’s no big deal. We have more important matters to deal with.”
Empathy includes perspective taking.
Empathy says you matter as a person, not just as a tool for producing results.
3 ways to develop empathy:
#1. Stop minimizing your own emotional state. You might be tempted to say, “I’ll be alright,” when you experience setbacks. Statements about the future are strategies for avoiding the present. If a setback stings, acknowledge it. “That hurts.”
#2. Understand three dimensions of empathy. Daniel Goleman describes three types of empathy in his article “Empathy 101”.
- Cognitive empathy: The ability to see the world through other’s eyes. The benefit is learning how to communicate effectively.
- Emotional empathy: The ability to feel what another feels. To express emotional empathy, notice your own responses to another’s facial expressions, vocal tones, and body language.
- Heart empathy: The ability to create a safe space where people dare to take risks. Heart empathy lets people know they are supported.
#3. Discuss empathy in your one-on-ones. Ask direct reports:
- When do you feel that I am most on your team?
- What might I do to give you the sense that I’m listening?
Simon Sinek believes empathy is the most important instrument in a leader’s toolbox. It can be expressed by simply asking, “Is everything OK?”
How might leaders develop and express empathy?
My friend Nate Regier’s article, “Power Causes Brain Damage, Beware of the Hubris Syndrome,” relates to this important topic.
Excellent. I know of one person who really should read this but he mostly watches TV news, plays golf and comments negatively about people. Mindfulness is another related skill he might pick up. But empathy is certainly an important part of being human. So many people need validation, a lot more than they get.
So, GOOD JOB DAN! (grin)
Thanks Dr. Scott. We need to get in touch with the power of validating people. It’s so empowering. Cheers
Hi Dr Scott, you make good points and I wonder where the empathy is for Mr TV Golf Negative man… what validation might you share that could enable a shift in him?
Empathy allows us to listen and do it well…so when I am talking with my officers, I allow them to vent about an issue or concern. We ALL need to vent at times. I explain… if the issue is with me, please vent to/with me. I can learn and you can feel supported/listened to.
Lastly, I always say venting is talking and letting go in one conversation. Venting and re-venting is complaining and NOT letting go. When we don’t let go, we hold onto the anger, become bitter, and create a “toxic mist” in the office.
Thanks Sergeant E. Powerful comment. I’m glad you brought venting into this conversation. I have a few people in my life that I can call and blow off steam. I’ve read that venting doesn’t work. But I think it helps to talk through a negative situation.
Maybe yelling or punching pillows doesn’t help. But a listening ear is powerful.
Love your explanation of venting cp complaining. Cheers
I love the idea of setting a limit on how long to vent for, like 3 minutes, and encouraging it. Then we move on to moving forward.
Seargeant E…. I LOVE that philosophy!! Something I need to work on myself! There is definitely a difference between venting and revisiting. I actually wrote your comment down and posted it in my office 🙂
An interesting post with good message!
Leaders need to develop this quality as a matter of morale responsibility. This is possible when a leader interacts with fellow colleagues and fellow colleagues more as an organization member. Also, he needs to be a good team player at times to get the best glimpse of their personal & professional lives and support them in their difficult times.
It’s a matter of cultivating good habit of caring for others while ensuring the desired productivity and rendering satisfaction. Having a good empathy is quite essential to build a strong character of reliability and win the hearts of people who are associated with you for collective success.
Thanks Dr. Asher. It’s helpful to bring caring and productivity together. I think we all perform better in a caring environment vs. a cruel or uncaring environment. I appreciate your insights
Absolutely – the best leader is a human leader, and no amount of smartness or efficiency can replace empathy.
Thanks Andrea. Well said!
Probably non pc but hey what the heck – I 😍 today’s blog. I just hope a high percentage of leaders are reading and if not already, react to their team with it. If leaders were allowed to or could ‘think outside the box’ this could go a long way to helping them develop their very important ’empathy’ skill. As for expressing, they need to ensure they use and show their ‘human’ side, possibly a hand on the shoulder, a pat on the back (keeping it pc of course) or saying “I know” with expression on their faces, meaningful tone in their voice. Learn the art of human expression and body language, facial expression, eyes, hand movement can say so much. Thanks for a great post Dan!
Thanks Thinker. “Human side” language is helpful. Sadly, in some orgs. leaders check their humanity at the door.
Very sadly. Sad they do this and have been put in such a position where they have to do it that way.
to unwittingly add to the above, rather than being run by ‘pc correctness’, totally not use expressions or actions that could be construed as such, know when to and how to use such expressions, empathetically of course, this would also develop the skill of ‘knowing your audience’.
good add. Thanks
Great key phrase, Dan, “Empathy is stepping into someone’s experience”. This behavior engages the Golden Rule (epic universal moral code). Also, wonderful sharing on this topic offering affirmation and great insights. The power of empathy lies within its propensity to create, enhance, and sustain trust between people, which is massive…because who wouldn’t trust those striving to understand your perspective? Phenomena such as empathy and music reveal both our organic and spiritual natures.
Empathy? The best way I feel to get it is by telling a story about yourself that is relevant to the other person. Once you have that, and that natural connection, you can’t help but be empathetic. And in some occupations, being too empathetic is a bad thing. If you’re an internal relationship manager at a company, being empathetic helps with your job. If you’re a hard nose salesman, being too empathetic can result in yourself talking your way out of a sale.
empathy is really important, It hurts when you put a long into a project and you feel like your boss doesn’t care or doesn’t understand what your doing or the effect your put into your work. empathy is important to have in life so it obviously important in the work place.
This is such an important topic and a great article. Many people don’t really understand what “empathy” truly means. It is important to understand that empathy does not mean “sympathy” or feeling sorry for someone. It means understanding the other person’s situation and perspective without judgment or criticism. I believe that no matter what you do in life, there is always a place for empathy.