What if You Suck at Empathy – 7 Ways to Create an Empathy Advantage

Only 18% of people who’ve completed the CliftonStrengths assessment have Empathy in their top five. Which means most of us don’t respond with Empathy immediately, spontaneously and consistently. (Gallup)

“Empathy represents the foundation skill for all the social competencies important for work.” Daniel Goleman

The empathy advantage:

An empathetic leader…

  1. Builds strong relationships that increase influence.
  2. Enjoys loyalty from others.
  3. Makes people feel valued and understood.
  4. Generates enthusiasm.
  5. Creates openness to receive instruction.
  6. Communicates effectively by knowing what people need to hear.

You might be an empath if you:

  1. Micromanage people.
  2. Notice and care about people’s feelings.
  3. Forget yourself when talking with others.
  4. Enjoy helping when adversity strikes.
  5. End up overcommitted because you can’t say no.
  6. Look in people’s eyes and see if they’re telling the truth.
  7. Feel exhausted during social tension.
  8. Offer to help, frequently. An empath loves to fix problems.
  9. Hear other people’s problems frequently.
  10. Enable others to take risks by creating supportive environments.
  11. See obstacles and problems others don’t see.
  12. Personalize the feelings of others.
  13. Hinder people’s growth and development through over-protection.
  14. Procrastinate.
  15. Lose sight of what YOU want and embrace what others want.

(The above list comes from a conversation with one of the most empathic people I know.)

7 ways to create an empathy advantage:

You might not have natural inclinations towards empathy, but you can practice empathy as long as you sincerely serve the best interest of others.

  1. Listen with interest.
  2. Remember people’s names.
  3. Learn about people and their families.
  4. Ask, “How can I help?”
  5. Say, “That sounds like a real challenge,” when people explain difficulties and obstacles.
  6. Affirm emotions. “I can see how you might feel that way.”
  7. Ask yourself, “What’s it like to be this person?”

How might leaders develop and practice the skill of empathy?

Bonus material:

The Value of Empathy (AMANET)

5 Benefits of Empathy (Goals)

6 Ways to Cultivate Empathy (UCDavis)

Being Empathetic is Good, But it Can Hurt Your Health (Washington Post)