Have you ever noticed that it can be hard to give Empathy? Does this mean I don’t have enough or am I confusing it with Sympathy? Maybe some people just naturally have this ability? Is it a skill that can be learned?
Empathy is the ability to connect and feel or relate to what another person is feeling. Getting into their perspective.
Sympathy is understanding someone else’s emotions from your own perspective. Getting what they are going through, and yet staying removed.
While both can show a level of caring about the other person, Empathy brings on the connection and opens up for a deeper level of conversation. Displaying Sympathy can shut down the openness and have the effect of being judged or being separate.
If you have been in a corporate structure for any length of time you might have been discouraged from showing empathy. It has been viewed as being weak, submissive and even unauthentic. Somehow showing any emotion can be interpreted this way. These are the old ways of keeping personal and work life not only separate, but showing emotion out of the work environment all together.
If you have ever seen a peer break down and cry or have a display of anger, how was it viewed in your environment? Was there any public or private display of empathy? Even in today’s evolving environment, I don’t believe empathy is encouraged. Maybe a sympathetic conversation around the water cooler, when there is an understand the workload presser reached a blowing point.
I doubt those that have shared these emotions openly have been given what might have been the one thing they needed at the time.
How do you make someone feel that you really care about them? Is it appropriate in the workplace?
What would happen if you did practice empathy?
Can you change your perspective to asking about the person instead of the situation?
Are you ok? How can I help? Would you like to share how you feel?
By all means don’t start your sentence with ” At least…”. ” At least, you didn’t get fired”. “At least, the whole team wasn’t present”. Like Brene Brown reminds us it is separating instead of connecting and while it is an attempt to help the person feel better, it is sympathetic and not empathetic.
I’m worried about you – personally this is trigger for me, though some feel it is empathetic. I don’t want others to be worried about me. It feels like they are saying I’m a train wreck and have no clue I’m even on the train.
I recognize that I don’t practice empathy enough. I’m committed to exploring in more and even looking for opportunities.
How are you practicing empathy? Can you practice in the work place? Do you feel we really are making some headway and are able to share our emotions openly in all environments.
Please share your opinions, I’d love to hear your perspectives. If you have any stories of great leaders who have been empathetic to you. I’d love to hear them. Please leave a comment.
I love this . Yes I do think we should bring Empathy into the workplace as an add in to our tools for building relationships with our co-workers.