6 November 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 12

11-04-2014 LII BlogContinuing with the importance of empathy as a part of People Skills for the leader.


Leaders understand the importance of empathy in dealing with others.

To have empathy you must be a good listener.  Empathy is the ability to know what others want and to comprehend why they want it.  It does not require that you agree with what they want or that their motives coincide with your values.  But having empathy does require that you be able to visualize yourself in the shoes of others.  You must attempt to understand why others are acting as they are.

Obviously, then, in order to be empathetic you must listen.  More importantly you must probe and then listen.  People are usually not reluctant to talk about themselves.  They may be reluctant to provide you with personal information if you start your probing with personal questions.  But, if you ask what they want, or how they feel, and then follow with a question of why they want that or why they feel that way, you will likely get the history you are looking for. It will be so much easier to motivate others when you understand what it is that motivates them.

Developing empathy can be helped by conducting an internal roll-playing game.  Truly envision yourself in the place of the person sitting across from you.  Remove all predispositions from your mind.  Become that person.  Can you understand why they are reacting as they are?  Can you appreciate that reaction?  Whether you appreciate it or understand it you must know where they are coming from.  Until you do, it will be difficult to change their direction if that is what is needed for you to accomplish your agenda.

“I appreciate your point of view and I can understand why you feel that way, but follow my train of thought for a moment and let’s see if what I am suggesting will also get you to where you want to go,”  is a powerful phrase.  Try it, but only after you are empowered with enough information to demonstrate empathy.

Next…speaking and writing skills for the leader.

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