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Empathy is Your Superpower (Part 2)

Empathy is Your Superpower (Part 2)

September 16, 2019
Empathy is Your Superpower (Part 2)

As a speaker, trainer, and consultant, I speak a great deal about the concepts surrounding Emotional Intelligence and how foundational it is to success for any one individual and any organization. Oftentimes, people overlook the things that can’t be measured easily on spreadsheets, but research has proven Emotional Intelligence and the resulting empathy it produces add to the bottom line in many metrics that companies do measure. 

Back in 1999, Cary Cherniss of Rutgers University published a piece called The Business Case For Emotional Intelligence writing about “19 points build a case for how emotional intelligence contributes to the bottom line in any work organization.” The research has continued and the results are always the same — Emotional Intelligence and empathy are driving forces of positive results across the board. 

So what steps can we take to ensure that we are getting the best out of ourselves when it comes to Emotional Intelligence and how we interact with the people around us? 

Here are five tips that have proven invaluable to me:

1. EMOTIONAL SELF-AWARENESS

Resistance comes in many forms; learn to identify it and how to combat it by being tuned into what you feel and why you feel it. Most of us choose to turn away from pain or discomfort, but I’ve learned to lean-in to the pain and discomfort, to become comfortable in the uncomfortableness, as my yoga instructor used to say. Acknowledge your emotions, your feelings, and then pause. Don’t ignore or suppress them, but train yourself to actually acknowledge them. 

Many people react rather than act. Reacting is defensive by definition. You are taking action based on feelings and emotions rather than processing the information you are receiving, which includes your feelings and emotions. Acknowledge your feelings. Practice tactfully and professionally communicating your thoughts. If you can’t do that at this time, then it is okay to say something like, “That doesn’t sit right with me, but I can’t talk about that right now. I’d like to table that and revisit it later. We can discuss it o?ine.” And then go let off some steam to process your anger for a minute (take a walk, do some pushups, write, scream into a pillow) and come back to it. 

Pause. Breathe. Vent. Allow the feelings to come up at an appropriate time because if you let it build up without processing the anger, it will fester and you will su?er even more. What we resist, will persist. In this way, you will learn to trust your emotions and become better at managing them. At the end of the day, you are responsible for communicating e?ectively in a professional manner in the workplace. 

2. SHIFT YOUR PERSPECTIVE

Shifting your mindset isn’t necessarily easy. When you assess your feelings and take time to decide how you will act rather than react, you move to a phase of regulating your emotions and harnessing them in a way that allows you to communicate more effectively.

The emotionally intelligent person can capitalize fully upon his or her changing moods in order to best ?t the task at hand. The ability to harness emotions to facilitate various cognitive activities, such as thinking and problem-solving, will generate far greater results from those on the receiving end of your behavior and communication. 

Pause. Take a moment to force yourself to see another point of view. How will your reaction be received and how can you act in a way that will improve the situation? What are you contributing to the situation? It is difficult to see things from a point of view other than your own. You are human after all, and you’re allowed to think your perspective is right just as long as you acknowledge there is a high probability that there is another “right” answer for someone else.

If you can’t see things differently, don’t beat your head against the wall. Just be open and ask the other party to share their point-of-view with the intent to understand where they are coming from and what they are feeling. Set aside your own feelings to invest in connecting with them on theirs. This small step is both kind and generous. Adopting this strategy alone will yield great results in stepping up your empathy and communication skills. 

3. PAY ATTENTION

Listen, observe, gather information, connect. Gain an awareness of others. 

To gain more awareness of others, a practice that I found to be helpful is to become a better listener. This has taken me years and I still have plenty of work to do in this area. But wanting to be a better listener is the ?rst step. Motive and intent are everything. Are you listening because you are waiting to speak? Or are you listening because you want to understand? Be curious about people, ideas, challenges, perspectives. Learn how to ask questions that encourage thoughtful answers and vulnerability, thereby building trust. I used to get angry when people would tell me to be a better listener, but listening is merely paying attention, and paying attention results in connection. 

Have you ever had someone bring something up that you mentioned long before? Maybe you said something about your favorite band and someone mentions it much later and you respond with “how did you know I love that band?’ forgetting you ever brought it up. Don’t you feel seen in those moments? That is a simple and perfect example of paying attention and the resulting feeling when someone feels heard. You have the ability to make people feel heard all of the time. 

4. BE YOU

Nobody is better equipped to be you than you are, so be you. Be authentic. Take inventory of yourself and what you bring to the table in your tribe and community.  By understanding your strengths, skills, and abilities that can benefit others, you can offer them a sense of value, making yourself feel good while giving your community something of worth. 

All of us are unique and likely have more to offer than we truly acknowledge. So acknowledge those things you have and be willing to share them generously. It is rewarding to do things for people because you can, and are good at it. But the most important part of this step is that you actively look for opportunities to contribute to those around you, whether it is simply saying “good morning” to someone who feels unseen or taking the burden off the shoulders of a colleague who’s overwhelmed. Whatever you can do to help others by simply being yourself will always feel rewarding. So get to it! If you don’t fill your shoes with the best version of you, then who will?

5. ENGAGE

Your community won’t come to you. Go to it. Engage with folks and work to connect while finding out how you can offer yourself to make things better. By implementing the steps above as you go out into the world, eyes on others, engaging them into sharing themselves, you will feel a profound sense of gratitude and your own self-worth will increase. 

I go to community events. I volunteer time and money. I host events and I invite a diverse group of people to attend. I know my community. I pay attention to my community. I win awards for community. 

One way to cultivate Emotional Intelligence and strengthen your connections is to engage in your community at work. I’m not saying you have to be out partying every Friday, or you have to go to lunch every day with your co-workers, but if there are community events you should participate to learn more about the people in the o?ce. If you are an introvert, you can still find online groups who share your interests or volunteer for community events by taking on a role that still allows you to be comfortable with your engagement. Even if you are just interacting briefly, you will still benefit from helping to support a local community effort. This article from help.org has more information about how to engage in your community managing your mindset, including suggested “good mood foods,” and tips on when to get professional help. 

To engage with others, be curious. Ask questions. Understand the motivations of people because that will help you navigate o?ce politics a little better. This is especially bene?cial as a leader. You will get much better results from your team if you take the time to learn what motivates them as individuals, then inspire them into action. 

By taking these steps, you will see a rapid change in the culture around you. Cultivating more Emotional Intelligence in your life should reduce your own stress, along with your co-workers and tribemates. You will improve relationships and your team will perform better than ever. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to implement these tips into your work life, request a quote for your Customized Mentorship Program. Accomplish milestones, improve communication, get better results in your life with a mentor to guide you through challenges. Contact Christina Aldan at LG@LGDesigns.co to c0-create customized strategies to help you overcome obstacles.

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The Business Case For Emotional Intelligence by Cary Cherniss
http://eiconsortium.org/reports/business_case_for_ei.html 

Download the pdf

 

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