Leading with empathy

Leading with empathy

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How would you rate your listening skills out of ten? Think back to the last conversation you were in… were you attentive?

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you replay the conversation:

–    Did you interrupt?

–    Did you maintain eye contact or were you looking elsewhere?

–    How was your body positioned? Was your body language positive?

–    Did you go on your device?

–    Did you ask meaningful questions?

–    Did you listen? Were you present and allowed for pauses/gaps?

Excellent listening skills are a pre-requisite for being empathetic. Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” The word originates from two Greek words ’em’ (in) and ‘pathos’ (feeling). Take a look at your own life and identify those people who show great empathy – chances are they are the ones you turn to when you need a chat. Empathy is a wonderful thing to have! It builds stronger more meaningful connections and relationships with others. For example, demonstrating great empathy can result in:

•    Your employees begin to trust and confide in you.

•    New connections at networking events.

•    Your teenage children begin opening up and sharing their thoughts and feelings.

•     ‘Stickier’ (loyal) customers in retail, service and sales industries

Demonstrating empathy is a skill, not only do you need to be great at listening, but you also need to be good at the following:

•    Mindfulness — the ability to be alert and engaged during the conversation

•    Curiosity — asking high mileage questions and open body language

•    Presence — aware and focused on the person and your actions and words.

•    Patience — taking all the information in before responding.

In the book ‘Instinct to Heal’ Dr Servan-Schreiber provides a useful technique called “BATHEing the heart.” This technique is taught to medical students in the US which you may find helpful in situations when somebody is reaching out or to practice your empathy skills.


Ask: What happened to you?

A is for AFFECT

Ask: And how does this make you feel?

T is for TROUBLE

Ask: And what troubles you the most now?


Ask: And what helps you the most to handle this?

E is for EMPATHY

Here you sincerely express the feelings you experienced while listening

If it’s in the workplace, remember to suggest “The Employee Assistance Program” to the person. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a free and confidential counselling service offered by employers to their employees to support their well-being in the workplace and their personal life.

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Quote of the week: There are two types of people, those who come into a room and say ‘well here I am’ and those who say ‘ah there you are’. Fredrick Collins