Having empathy has become expected as a leader. Leaders in all industries are becoming more curious about what it means to actually care for their team’s well-being.
It’s easy to be empathetic when things are going well but it inevitably becomes more difficult during trying times. I think we often get shamed for not being empathetic enough but what we need to do is normalize the fact that true empathy takes practice and it’s a skill.
Sometimes, not only do we need more empathy towards others, but we need more empathy towards ourselves! With more empathy, we can start to build more meaningful relationships with others and better relationships with ourselves.
So what are some questions we can start practice asking ourselves during situations where we need more empathy?
What is Empathy Really?
The dictionary definition of empathy is that it’s the ability to understand and share feelings of another. We hear a lot about “putting ourselves in other people’s shoes,” meaning we have to literally feel what the other person is feeling. I think for some people, that feels like an unachievable task.
So how can we start to take action towards cultivating more empathy? In Rob Volpe’s book on Tell Me More About That, he says the first step to becoming more empathetic is dismantling judgement.
I cannot agree more. In fact, having judgment gets in the way of many other things in life. It is important that we gain more awareness on the judgments that we have of others, situations, and also ourselves (refer back to my post on Having Energy Awareness to be More Resiilent).
In the context of empathy, below are some questions that I find helpful to dismantle my judgments of others (and also of myself). This then makes it easier for me to actually put myself in other people’s shoes.
Questions to Ask Yourself to Remove Judgment in Any Situation
- What is another way to look at this situation?
- What else might be going on?
- What might be the opposite point of view of this situation?
Empathy Takes Practice
While empathy comes natural to some, it takes practice for many of us. Let’s normalize this practice and start taking realistic and actionable steps towards having more empathy for others, but also for ourselves.
What are some things you have done to cultivate more empathy for yourself and others?