The world has come to an empathy deficit. As we march into the future, we find ourselves living in bubbles more and more every day. Our circles have become homogenous, and we are losing our ability to move beyond our own worldviews. According to Merriam-Webster, empathy is “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s feelings and emotions.” However, being empathetic is easier said than done. It requires more energy to be truly empathetic rather than only sympathetic towards another individual. The need for empathy in the world is prevalent and surely, you have witnessed an opportunity for empathy in one form or another: a small business owner suffering during the pandemic, a parent whose children transitioned to online learning while working from home, or the manager who can’t relate to the lives of their team.
How do we strengthen our empathetic muscles?
We must understand the importance of empathy and develop three key types of empathy. Empathy deepens relationships and allows them to grow into a mutually beneficial trusting relationship where both parties are motivated to learn and grow together. Taking initiative to show empathy will encourage individuals to reciprocate each others’ efforts and try harder when it comes to being more empathetic. Research has shown that empathy makes people better managers and employees, and better family members and friends. Connection and compassion are crucial to a humane future.
Dr. Hendrie Weisinger, bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence at Work, illustrates the idea perfectly:
“If a person says, ‘I screwed up a presentation,’ I don’t think of a time I screwed up a presentation–which I have [done] and thought, no big deal. Rather, I think of a time I did feel I screwed up, maybe on a test or something else important to me. It is the feeling of when you failed that you want to recall, not the event.”
Three Types of Empathy
There are three types of empathy that are worth developing and important to practice, including:
Empathy Accuracy: The best way to develop and excel at this skill is to be observant and listen 90% more than you talk when interacting with another individual. This skill is about reading people and requires you to pay attention to verbal and non-verbal communication cues. Empathy accuracy means that “you can walk out of a meeting and know what was said, even if people did not articulate it clearly. You know what people are thinking, feeling, and wanting during conversations, without them having to say it (Sam, 2016)”.
Empathy Compassion: This skill is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It is about trying to see a situation from another person’s point of view and understanding how they perceive things. This skill is showcased when you are being challenged or in a tough situation. In most tough situations, people will react by shutting down but with this skill, you will be able to stay open emotionally and focus on trying to understand where the other person is coming from.
Empathy Acknowledgement: Empathic acknowledgment combines listening, empathizing, and acknowledging what the other person has said and experienced. This skill is about interacting with empathy in mind. It typically improves relationships and often deepens emotional intimacy. It leads to feeling like you have received a “psychological hug” (Sam, 2016).
The first step in developing your leaders to become more empathetic and self-aware is by implementing The Predictive Index System. With The Predictive Index Behavioural Assessment, you can predict on-the-job success, candidate fit, and manage employees in a way that pushes them to perform at the top of their game – which all begins with understanding your team.
Sam, Management 3.0 Team. (2016, October) The three types of empathy worth developing. Management 3.0. Retrieved from https://management30.com/blog/power-of-empathy/
Bariso, J. (2018, September) There are actually 3 types of empathy: Here’s how they differ – and how you can develop them all. Inc. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/there-are-actually-3-types-of-empathy-heres-how-they-differ-and-how-you-can-develop-them-all.html
Miller, C. (2021, May) How to be more empathetic. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/guides/year-of-living-better/how-to-be-more-empathetic