“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?” – Marcus Aurelius
This is part of my ongoing series of blogs about Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
The fourth component of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is Empathy. The most common definition of the term I have found is:
“The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people; skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions.”
To phrase it another way, “Empathetic people read between the lines of what is said.”
How do you build a higher level of Empathy? Here are some techniques I’ve seen many successful senior leaders use:
- Practice Empathetic Listening: As Steven Covey describes it, Empathetic Listening is listening with the intent to understand – not with the intent to reply. There’s a big difference between the two.
- Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Far too often, we only see the world from our perch. Try seeing it from theirs. Ask yourself, “What is his or her intent in telling me this?”
- Focus on Being in the Moment: Where are you when in conversation? Is your phone in sight? How about your computer? Maybe both?? Do you expect to have a meaningful conversation when these distractors are both intruding on your ability to focus on the other person? Take them out of play, then have a talk.
- Ask Power Questions: Power questions are those where you model curiosity. They generate meaningful responses. One of my favorites is “What’s on your mind?” It will generate much more information than “How’s it going?” or “What’s Up?”
As I’ve mentioned in recent blogs, spend dedicated time each week to update your EQ Action Plan. Enter the days and times you specifically put in work to build a higher level of empathy. Cite examples where you employed the tools listed above. As you teach your leaders how to build their EQ Action Plans, help them capture specific examples, too. It will take some time, but I think you’ll see measurable results – in yourself, and those you serve.
Enjoy the journey!
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