Empathy is the ability to understand the perspectives, experiences, and feelings of others, and is an essential leadership skill. It is the ability to “put yourself in another’s shoes,” but with one very important distinction. Empathy is showing that you feel how they feel to be IN THEIR OWN SHOES, and NOT that you know what it feels like for YOU to be in their shoes.
Imagine your reaction when a colleague comes to your office to report a personal tragedy. How do you respond? An empathetic response encourages them to share their story while you listen to their venting. Sharing your similar experience(s) would be a non-empathetic response. Note that they likely didn’t come to your office for you to fix something or to have you understand. They likely came to be soothed and comforted.
To build your empathy “muscles,” practice good listening skills and become an expert at reading non-verbal cues.
Written by: Dave Dallam
About the Author
Vice President | Executive Coach, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.
Dave’s R|L Executive Coaching process focuses on individual self-awareness, intentional behavior modification, and leadership of the daily interactions of team members. Dave is committed to helping clients achieve individual greatness through guided self-discovery. His coaching style is always open, straightforward, authentic, and supportive. Read Full Bio