Friday, September 12, 2014

The Empathetic Mind

Digital is the Age of Empathy which is the single defining quality that will distinguish great leaders from the rest.

At the siloed industrial age with the command-control style of leadership, empathy is under-rated and sadly fades and drops down the "valued skill-set”. As now the world moves into a hyper-connected and interdependent digital relationship age, empathy is the single defining quality that will distinguish great leaders from the rest. What is empathy, how to differentiate empathy from sympathy, and how to shape an empathetic mindset?

Empathy vs Sympathy - Sympathy derives from Latin and Greek words meaning 'having a fellow feeling'. The term empathy originated in psychology and has now come to mean the ability to imagine or project oneself into another person's position and experience all the sensations involved in that position. Both empathy and sympathy are feelings concerning other people. Sympathy is literally 'feeling with' - compassion for or commiseration with another person. Empathy, by contrast, is literally 'feeling into' - the ability to project one's personality into another person and more fully understand that person. ( Empathy is an ultimate level of human cognition of being non-judgmental, active listening and balancing between tolerance and respect to achieve that. One can empathize with someone else without agreeing with their perspective. Until we tune into 'the right frequency' we receive what send out through our own channels. If that is an egoistic point of view, then that is what we get. However if we send out a feeling of respect towards others, we listen more selectively. Once a person understands that we all have different lenses, perceptions in the way we look at the world, it becomes easier to open your heart to another person and have a "soul to soul" conversation with RESPECT. It does take a lot of practice and is achievable.

Having a listening heart with an attentive mind (Stephen Covey). Listening is considered to be one of the most critical sub-skills that comprise of emotional intelligence. The content is; Active listening being attentive, seeking the full meaning of what is being shared, listening with the eyes; giving attention to non-verbal communications, and listening with the intention of linking into the emotional spectrum in self and others. The problem is that most of the people don't listen silently to what the other person is saying as they have already prejudged them or they have their answer ready no matter what they say. The habit of prejudging and preconceived notions about things jumping to conclusions are easy to miss because it is so fast and automatic. So while you know you need to be empathetic, but sometimes cannot help yourself. But it can be trained, as both listening and empathy are hallmarks in leadership.

Empathy as evidence of emotional intelligence. Someone in the throes of a strong emotion is simply unable to hear rational arguments or respond logically. The only way to move them from the heart to the rational mind is to use empathy to disarm their emotion. When people receive empathy, they truly feel heard and they can learn to listen more proactively and respond with empathy. It takes effort and we have to find our own words and our own way of saying them and become more focused on problem-solving.

Digital is the age of empathySympathy is a positive emotion to motivate people to do a good deed, help others and improve the world; while empathy conveys the RESPECT which is crucial to binding peer-to-peer relationship and connect the mind and touch the heart. Without empathy, there cannot be a rapport and thus no sustainable business relationships. As the world moves into a hyper-connected and interdependent digital relationship age, empathy is the single defining quality that will distinguish great leaders from the rest. The current move in business to pay attention to Human Resource social capital is a move towards increased empathy. When we LISTEN, and find out the other's purpose and identify and respect (whether we agree with it or not be non-judgmental), then we can connect, talk about it, discuss it and many times, they will get more insight and will look at it differently, and be able to tune their own purpose, which they never thought about it in such a way. This is the power of a team. It is all about connecting as humans, whether at work or elsewhere. If we become clear about our objectives, we can use a variety of measures to address it.

Empathy is one of the most critical leadership substances today, as at ultimate level, the leadership has to go deeper, not louder; first understand, then be understood; first listen, then make a conversation; first envision, then communicate; first observe, then perceive; first learn to absorb knowledge, then capture insight, and gain wisdom. And businesses that are focusing on meeting the social needs of their workers are reaping more benefits. Empathy has a premium place in the business and in the hyper-connected human society as well.


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