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The Power of Empathy


Do you find it difficult to have an opinion that's different from others, or are you able to see things through their lens and have much healthier communication? 

Hi, this is Grant Herbert, Emotional Intelligence Speaker and Trainer of the Year, and Master Coach Trainer. Today, I will continue our conversation in the third quadrant of Emotional Intelligence and help yo u understand and use The Power of Empathy. 

Let me unpack the five key principles that you need to consider to walk down this path of empathy.

Number one is to Balance Your Concern. 

Number two is Listening is the Key

Number three is to Hear the Emotions

Number four is to Acknowledge and Clarify

Number five is to Withhold Judgment.

Join me again next week as we continue this conversation in the third quadrant of Emotional Intelligence, Social Awareness by looking at the skill of Situational Awareness.


Do you find it difficult to have an opinion that's different from others, or are you able to see things through their lens and have much healthier communication? 
Well, stick with me in this episode, and I'm going to help you develop the skills of Social Awareness that will allow you to show more Empathy. 
Hi, this is Grant Herbert, Emotional Intelligence Speaker and Trainer of the Year, and Master Coach Trainer. Today, I will continue our conversation in the third quadrant of Emotional Intelligence and help yo u understand and use The Power of Empathy. 
Henry Ford once said, "If there's any great secret to success, it lies in your ability to put yourself in the other person's place and see things from their point of view, as well as your own." 
The challenge in our fast-paced world - this lockdown pandemic world - where social media is the main way people communicate, is people experience a lack of empathy every day. 
I see people looking at things clearly from their perspective, and it's something that I've got to work on every day as well. 
What you're going to do is you're going to have a look this week at why that is and what you can do instead so that you have great communication and better relationships. 
The first problem I see is people having tunnel vision. 
You're too focused on what you're doing, and you need to be in a lot of cases. However, just having that tunnel vision, where you can only see things down one lens (there's no variant or no rule outside that would work for you), can create a lack of empathy where you're focused on what it is that you're trying to achieve and what your agenda is. 
You can also lack concern, where you don't care about what's going on with anyone else except yourself and, therefore, make you act without consideration. And that can affect your relationships. Having a lack of concern can also affect people's lives and can create disengagement. 
But when you learn the skills of Empathy - when you become more attuned to others. 
When you become tuned in to what it is that they're saying. 
When you try to understand what their perspective is. 
When you become sensitive to it, like when you bite into ice cream, it puts that feeling in your teeth. 
When you understand what it is that they could be going through. 
Where you feel the unspoken - just like when a great singer sings a song, not only do you hear the lyrics, but you also feel the experience. The result is you end up being committed to collaboration rather than conflict - how you can work together so that you can all go through life and have your own views without all this conflict. 
To do that, you need to develop this competency of Emotional Intelligence called EMPATHY
Before you look at what Empathy is, I would like to unpack what it isn't. 
Because a lot of times, I see people misunderstand or have a different view of what Empathy is. Therefore, they see Empathy as something that's a weakness rather than a powerful strength. 
If you go on one end of the scale, you've got APATHY which means: 
"I don't care." 
"I don't have any care about what it is that is in your situation." 
"I'm oblivious to what your situation is, and I'm not getting involved in it." 
Then on the other side of the scale, there's SYMPATHY, which says: 
"I can see what you're going through, and I feel sorry for you." 
Both apathy and sympathy can create thoughts and behaviour which don't serve the other person, don't serve you, and definitely don't serve the greater good. 
So, what you want to do is learn the skills of EMPATHY
Let's unpack what it is and then look at what you need to know to learn from it, develop it, and then use it in your daily life. 
Empathy is sensing other people's feelings and perspectives and considering how they feel when working with them. It's taking an active interest in their concerns, not necessarily needing to do anything about it, but allowing that to be the lens that you look through when working with them and trying to understand what they're going through in their world. 
Let me unpack the five key principles that you need to consider to walk down this path of empathy. 
The first is to Balance Your Concern
I've already talked about the fact that people have apathy, which means: 
"I don't care." 
And sympathy, which means: 
"I feel sorry for you." 
And Empathy which means: 
"I want to understand what it is that you're going through. I want to understand your perspective." 
So, you have to make sure that you do this in the correct balance because it's okay to have empathy for people. 
However, you sometimes need to get involved because it's something within your control, and it is right for you to get involved. 
Other times, you need to understand; you need to give them an environment where they are heard and navigate your communication with them through that lens of understanding. 
So, whenever you are involved in a situation that requires empathy, what you need to do is also look to see whether or not: 
a. There's a need. 
b. They want you to get involved and help them to do something about it. 
It's like for many years, when I was growing up, right at mealtime, World Vision would put the images of starving children on the screen. The emotions that would well up in me, as I saw that. The images that were put up on screen could either get me to do something about it and play the part that I could, or feel sorry for them, or even feel bad about myself and not eat my dinner because I had food and they didn't. 
And this is a great example of having a balance around this. 
So, what I did, was I made sure that I did what I could as a child not to waste the food that I had. 
It allowed me to be more grateful for what it is that I had. 
Then, as I grew up, I was able to do what I could to raise money to help that cause. 
It encouraged me to sponsor kids around the world. 
To do Oxfam runs and the like so that I could get involved. 
And that's the balance of not just feeling sorry for them - I actually felt what they were going through and was able to do something about it. 
So, whenever you are in a situation where you're seeing someone going through something, what you want to do is discern through your logical brain what you could do to ease that burden of what they're going through. And to be honest, there's nothing practical that you need to do; it's just listening and understanding, and that helps. 

Number two is Listening is the Key. 
A lot of times in conversations, you're just communicating to be heard. Yet, when you want to be empathetic, you need to tune into what other people are saying. And that takes the skill of active listening. 
Active listening says, 
"I'm listening not just to hear what you're saying; I'm listening to understand. I'm present right here right now. And that's all I'm focused on." 
By doing this, you can get the cues, the clues, and the understanding that you need to see it from your perspective. 
To do this, you need to shift your focus. 
You need to shift your focus from yourself – from your opinion, idea, stand, and agenda, and you need to give full attention to the other person. 
So, the second thing that you need to work on and build up is your ability to listen actively. 
Number three is to Hear the Emotions. 
Whether it be written, text, voice, or body language, you can use your active listening skills to hear the emotion that comes through. 
Remember, Social and Emotional Intelligence is the ability to be aware of your own emotions and what might be going on in the other person at the moment, then use that information to manage yourself and manage your relationships. 
To do that, you need to be able to hear the emotion that's coming through, not just the words. 
You need to be able to use that reflective listening to ask questions to get that understanding. 
Instead of thinking that they might be going through this, you can get clarity around that. 
When you're working with people on a screen or face to face, you can see what could be going on as well. You can read those cues. 
However, no matter what the communication is, your number one goal here is to know what the other person is feeling. 
 And that starts, as I said, by taking an active concern, being curious, and wanting to understand and see it from their perspective. 
That's why you need to put down your agenda. Because if you only see it through that lens of what you want to achieve, you're not going to be able to feel, experience, and hear what the other person's going through. Therefore, your decisions will be made totally around what you want. 
Number four is to Acknowledge and Clarify. 
As you're going through a conversation, no matter what medium you're using, you need to check in. You need to acknowledge, what's been said, what you've heard, and clarify so that you know that you've got the right understanding. 
Using phrases like: 
"So, what I'm hearing here is this…." 
And being able to reflect that back. 
That shows the other person that you are acknowledging them - that you've heard them, that you're actively listening to them. It also allows them to clarify any misunderstanding then. 
Communication is such a valuable skill. It's something that I work on every single day. And I continue to tell you all that I'm a work in progress, just like you. 
Using reflective listening - acknowledging, checking in, clarifying - is the number one key for you to make sure that you can have healthy conversations. 
Number five is to Withhold Judgment. 
When you come from a perspective – an agenda, a view, or a belief- when you put a meaning on what someone else says, as if they're attacking what you believe, and those sorts of things, you can become judgmental. What you then do is put that judgment on the person through poor communication. 
Because the other person (or people are ) is a human being, there's also the risk of a misinterpretation and them decoding what you're saying and filtering that through their insecurities and their challenges. Therefore, there's a misunderstanding, and the conflict comes in. 
However, when you look at the issue, when you look at the words that are being said, when you look at it from a contextual point of view, rather than looking at it, that someone is saying something to you. When you take the focus away from how it affects you personally and withhold any need to judge what they're doing or saying, then that is the environment that opens up mutually beneficial conversations. 
It's the key to empathy. 
There is no way that you can be an empathetic person - where you can seek to understand what others are going through and therefore work alongside them in whatever capacity is appropriate and achieve a great result for both of you - unless you suspend judgment. 
For many years, that was my biggest challenge. I was a very judgmental person because I held to (and still do) strong moral beliefs. 
One of the biggest challenges that I see is people are doing the same thing. 
They're taking it personally. 
You feel like whatever the other person is saying - If it's not the same as what you agree with or believe in, they're attacking you. 
And they're not - they've got a point of view. 
Now, in the case of social media, you've all seen situations where that conversation digresses and escalates as it goes down. And that's a classic example of a lack of Emotional Intelligence because it goes out of the logical brain (which focuses on the issue) and goes into the limbic brain ( the emotional brain). 
The amygdala senses that there's something that you need to fear here - so you get that fight and flight or freeze response coming in. 

So there you have it, the five key principles that will help you to be more empathetic. 

As I'm doing this, you're going into December, and you're going into the time you're going to have conversations with people that you don't usually see except around Christmas time. 
There will be people who will look back at their lives, and they're looking at what they've achieved this year. With the added weight of the pandemic ( what it's done to their lives and their business etc.), they're looking at 2022 through a different lens to what they might've done a couple of years ago. So, right here, we (myself included) all need to learn and go into this next period with a lot more empathy. 
A lot of times, I've seen people that think they're empathetic, and then when you look at their behavior, you think, "oh, I think that's just closer to being pathetic." And you don't want that because you need more than ever, right now, healthy communication that's uplifting, and you need it to be okay for people to believe things that are different from you. 
You need to let people go through their journey and empathize with them. 
You don't have to agree. 
You can make that communication and that relationship a lot more fun for both of you. 
Well, that's it from me for another week. 
Join me again next week as we continue this conversation in the third quadrant of Emotional Intelligence, Social Awareness by looking at the skill of Situational Awareness. 
 I'll see you then.

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