“In separateness lies the world's great misery, in compassion lies the world's true strength.”
This quote has never been so true, as we find ourselves working from home separated from our colleagues or even our families and close friends as well. When we do go out it’s a sea of masks, if we are not careful, we might forget how to connect with others completely.
Part Two – Compassionate Empathy
Last time we looked at the different types of empathy and compassionate empathy is where we genuinely want to understand someone else’s feelings, challenges, and personal situation - remember this is not about “I know how you feel” it is “I want to understand how you feel” So, let’s look at some of the key skills in compassionate empathy: - 1. Conscious listening - that means being in the moment, no judgements, no solutions, and absolutely no interruptions (unless it’s a question that is genuinely curious and without an agenda) 2. Empathetic enquiry – so open questions or commands that help you to understand “tell me why you are feeling this way” “what is happening for you right now” 3. Be silent – silent has the same letters as listen – leave space for them to think and answer, this is all about them and not you. 4. Patience -the hardest thing is to hold back from offering solutions, offer your help and support but ask them what they need. When you look at the above, a lot of it is about being truly unselfish and keeping yourself in the moment – sound easy? It really isn’t and you will have to work really hard consistently to master these skills. The great news is we can all do this, none of us are born with these skills, in my new book Stand Out there is a master class in 5 important skills for the future and as empathy has a whole chapter dedicated to it, I want to share with you 3 key exercises from the book you can use to flex and build your compassionate empathy muscles.
1. To be empathetic with others you must first do it for yourself and be more in tune with your own feelings.
Set your alarm for 3 different times today (good excuse for a coffee anyway) When the alarm goes off ask yourself, how are your feeling? What is your mood? Be aware of your emotions, to get you started here are a few possible answers: • I feel tired • I feel bored • I feel a bit down • I feel excited and motivated • I feel nervous and anxious
2. Choose a person who you are having challenges with (it can be work or personal)
Stage one – Do they see things differently to you – step into their shoes for a moment, for instance imagine doing their job, what challenges might they face? Stage two – Reflect on the conversations you have had with this person. Consciously check your interpretation of what they said and consider what questions you could have asked to understand more about their perspective.
3. Exposing ourselves to different types of people, their stories and culture helps to make us more open and understanding.
For one week chose some subjects, cultures, types of people you want to understand more about and watch TV programmes that relate. For example I have been watching lots of programmes related to “Black Lives Matter” because I want to understand more and be aware of the history etc. You could also do this by reading or listening to podcasts. Reflect on how it changes your viewpoint and how it makes you feel.
I hope you enjoy these exercises, please drop me a line if you want to share or give feedback I promise to be empathetic!
Next time we will look at conscious listening arguably one of the most important skills if you want to lead from the heart.