Saturday, March 12, 2016

Three Questions to Assess a Person’s Empathy

Empathy is a high-level of Emotional Intelligence.

Many say digital is the age of empathy, to simply put, empathy is the ability to understand others from their perspectives. Humans aren't as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others. Now the physical barriers such as oceans or mountains cannot stop people from communicating with each other, there are still walls built in people’s minds and there are knots tiered in their hearts. Empathy is an important leadership trait and a crucial quality for today’s multigenerational and multicultural digital professionals as well. So which questions shall you ask to assess a person’s empathy?

Do you often label people only based on their physical identity on the surface, or can you see through others from their character and “aura”?  People learn as children about the world by labeling/identifying things; and somewhere along the way, people learn that labeling/judging other people based on precognition, biased perception, and superficial criteria. There are inherent limitations in engaging in conversations with people in text boxes; the limited abilities to facilitate meaningful dialogue and relationships with such a broad array of people from around the world; each having different intentions and life journey. So, the greatest contribution to humanity would be taking the time and the sincere effort to understand the other person. Walk in the shoes of the person you're judging, understand him/her from a different angle - character, strength, creativity, consistency, etc. EVERYBODY has something to offer, and it is up to us to allow an equal give and take. That simple act might empower people and encourages them to take the next step in growing themselves and advance our human society.

Are you often confused about the meaning of sympathy vs. empathy? Sympathy is an emotional attachment, and empathy is an Emotional Intelligence. Sympathy is to feel sorry about the other’s unfortunate circumstances. Empathy is about thinking as if you were in the other party's position. Someone in the throes of strong emotion is simply unable to hear rational arguments or respond logically. Empathy is a great leadership quality that's often overlooked. Showing empathy helps a great leader infuse their employees with the company's mission and even better, their own life purpose or career goals. Such soft skill that can help is the ability of a leader to communicate with empathy, that it's better to be open to new ideas and risk having failures than to be close-minded and miss a brilliant idea. Frequently those brilliant ideas come from empowered knowledge workforce and empathetic leadership.

Do you often communicate to tailor the different audience's expectation and taste? Empathy means using the right language with the right people. It could be hinting at another important skill for great leaders, which is respecting other people as if you were in their position, judging the right language to use in different situations only comes from wisdom and experience. Empathy is an ultimate level of human cognition of being wise -understanding, active listening and balancing between tolerance and respect to achieve that. 

 Empathy is a very important soft skill that is frequently undervalued. It's not born to a leader. Too many business leaders have a "my way or the highway" mentality and don't value the opinions of their employees enough. The ability to not simply have empathy, but to exercise and convey that in a genuine and accessible fashion. There are silo mentalities isolating the minds and small thinkings breaking the hearts. And the irony is, no two people are absolutely identical, we are each unique and yet, we are one human race; like snowflakes, each unique, yet collectively the same. You don’t need to like everyone, you also don’t need to be liked by everyone. So be yourself, focus on the things matter more to you, be empathetic to understand others and the world, be empathetic to show high-level Emotional Intelligence.


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