Today, I want to talk about the one thing we all need to have.
A few years ago I became a member of a bereavement support group here in Ottawa. I had just moved from Toronto, and was coping with the loss of my second child at childbirth.
I felt becoming part of this group would help those who experienced the same loss and it would help me deal with my bereavement at the same time.
I didn’t know it at the time but I was demonstrating empathy. I was able to listen to others and feel their pain. I understood their state of mind and could identify with them and similarly they could identify with me because of my loss.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.
In this day and age however, there is a definite lack of empathy out there and it impacts both personal relationships as well as business ones.
As Elliot Cohen Ph.D states “being empathetic to the situations of others can promote trust, leading to open and honest communication, thereby facilitating resolution of interpersonal conflicts and constructive change.”
As a personal example, I lovingly call my husband, Mr. Fix-It! He struggles with showing empathy, and all he ever wants to do is fix things so that it will go away. (It’s a good thing he knows I’m writing about him and it’s a wonderful thing that we can talk about it:)
And in my business, having empathy is critical.
I believe it is a big part of building a long term relationship and gaining one’s trust as I determine what my client really needs and if my products and services are a good fit for him/her.
In Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence, he includes empathy as the central component and infers that one’s emotional quotient (EQ) may be more important than one’s intelligence quotient (IQ) in today’s world.
Being aware of one’s lack of empathy is the first step, then continuing to work at it by really listening to the person across from you and asking deeper questions will help build this skill, personally and professionally.
So the most important thing is to focus your attention on the welfare, interests and needs of others.
It’s not about you, it is about them. Put yourself in their shoes.
If you can do that on a daily basis then you are on your way to becoming more empathetic.
“The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.” – Meryl Streep, Actress
Meryl Streep is right, but we have to use that power.
I guarantee that if you do, your relationships with others, both personal and business, will not only improve dramatically but will significantly flourish.
So, why not, change your thinking and have empathy every day – you’ll be glad you did.