Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 8 – Empathy
This blog is part of a series of blogs exploring Emotional Intelligence. Looking at ways to be able to develop and enhance our own perceived levels of Emotional Intelligence.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
To gain a greater understanding you can read a previous blog What is Emotional Intelligence and How Can I develop it, for more detail. However, Emotional intelligence is all about how well you understand your own emotions and the emotions of others, and the ability to identify and manage them. Emotional Intelligence, also known as “Ei” or “EQ”, is now well established set of “Competencies” that contribute to performance, engagement and success.
Their are five key areas of Emotional Intelligence, Self Perception, Self Expression, Interpersonal, Decision Making and Stress Management. Each of these areas has three traits. We are going to discuss each of these traits in more detail with their own blog. We have previous looked at the area of Self Perception and now looking at Self Expression. This week we will be exploring the trait, Empathy.
What is Empathy and the relations to Emotional Intelligence?
Empathy measures whether you understand other peoples viewpoints and their reasons for feeling or acting the way they do. It also looks at how far you take feelings into account when considering how to respond to them. Empathy is about being able to emotionally read other people, understand how they feel and support them.
Empathy is not to be confused with sympathy, which is more about diving in and feeling the pain of others.
“Whenever you feel like criticising any one…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
How much do you use the trait of Empathy?
Do you understand how people feel, without feeling it yourself? Do you want to understand how people feel?
When Empathy is operating well:
- Aware of others’ feelings & avoids hurting them
- Understanding others’ responsibilities, demands & points of view
- Good at developing people
- Picks up emotional signals
When Empathy is low:
- Leads to misunderstandings
- More focused on facts than others’ feelings/reactions
- Can be rough with others
- Misses important signs
- Lack of compassion
During Learning Cog’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Masterclass, starting with ‘Self-Perception’, we explain how to assess you own emotional intelligence and how to develop your EQ awareness. Here in this blog we have added some areas to think about when developing Empathy.
Showing Empathy is about understand other peoples point of view and working with that. Here are ways to observe others that you perceive to have strong Empathy skills.
- Who do you know who is good at understanding why other people feel?
- Who do you know who is genuinely cares about what happens to other people?
- When you see these people with other people, how do they show their sensitivity and awareness of other people?
- Mainly through their words?
- Or is it mainly through gestures and non-verbal communication?
- Is it mainly through directions?
- How does this person ensure that other people around them don’t get hurt?
- What are their strategies for being empathetic in their interactions with others?
- When people are talking to me, how do I show I am listening? Is it in my body? Am I making eye contact, is my expression showing attentiveness, is my stance open and receptive?
- What do I notice about other people when they’re talking to me?
- Do I look at their expression?
- Do I notice their body language?
- Can I detect their emotional state?
Thinking and Reflection
Here is an exercise for you to complete to help build your understanding of your own Empathy.
Exercise 1: Be a film buff
Watch films and draw emotional maps – you could do this in a number of ways. Follow one character and plot their highs and lows through stages in the film – very emotional states – how they change and what triggers the changes. Follow your own emotional state as an observer of the film. Your own highs and lows, what triggers them? This could be associations with current and previous life events. Once you have done this a few times, try to differentiate between the emotional states.
Exercise 2: Listen to them more
When you find yourself quick to judge someone, suspend your judgement until you have sought some common ground.
- Practice listening more, with the only objective being “Do I really understand what motivates this person?” “Do they experience me as a good listener?”
- Look for opportunities to find common ground that might be outside of the current agenda – e.g. common interests, hobbies and build rapport on this platform first
- Give others the opportunity to express themselves completely, without interruption.
- Ask others how they feel – on a scale of 1 to 10.
- Avoid saying – you need to see, you have to, why didn’t you, you should, you shouldn’t, you should have, you shouldn’t have.
- Recognise how you feel when someone shows concern to you and how it makes you feel when you show concern to someone else.
- Learn to accept differences in people.
- Improve your ability to read body language.
- Tune in more to non-verbal communication.
- Use your own awareness to recognise others feelings.
- Make an effort to be more sensitive and understanding of others.
- Ask yourself how you would feel any given situation and respond accordingly.
- Improve your listening skills. Give others the opportunity to completely express themselves while you listen without interrupting, judging or trying to solve their problems.
The more time you spend observing yourself and the people around you, the more you develop your Empathy. Give yourself time, it may feel mechanical, clumsy and awkward at first, but with practice it will become quick and easy and automatic. Why not get in touch and talk to us more about developing Emotional Intelligence in yourself, your Leadership Team or your whole business. firstname.lastname@example.org
Look out for the next blog on Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 9 – Interpersonal Skills
Or read previous blogs:
1 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 1 – Self Regard
2 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 2 – Self Actualisation
3 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 3 – Emotional Self Awareness
4 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 4 – Emotional Expression
5 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 5 – Assertiveness
6 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 6 – Independence
7 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 7 – Social Responsibility