Being empathetic starts with improving your self-awareness, according to new research from the University of Missouri
Often we associate empathy with selflessness, but according to the MU News Bureau, recent research out of the University of Missouri in Columbia suggests the opposite might be true. Instead, MU researchers have determined that individuals who have a higher sense of self-awareness are more prone to feeling empathy.
Researchers used MRI scans of peoples’ brains and found that those who felt more empathy had increased function in the segment of their brain that was associated with a sense of self. So, increasing your self-awareness might result in an improved ability to empathize with those around you
Recently, there was an article describing a couple of studies that have been done on empathy, that trait that allows us to feel another’s circumstances (“Empathy is Actually a Choice,” Cameron, Inzlicht, and Cunningham, NYT July 12, 2015).
The studies suggest empathy can be learned, that it is not a limited reserve of feeling with a cap. While some individuals seem born with a fully developed pallet of empathy, others have barely a seed, which will require significant nurturing and learning.
The most interesting bit in this article was that when people realized empathy could be learned, they made efforts to improve their own empathy quotient. These people seek out situations that will build their capacity for empathy, but sometimes the lesson comes from a different direction. Part of a course I took on social justice involved going to a soup kitchen.
The business community has embraced the concept of emotional intelligence and its importance ever since Daniel Goleman's best-selling book, Working with Emotional Intelligence(1998). The challenge is to demonstrate that such competencies significantly impact employee performance.
Ten Ways to Develop Empathy
1. Keep a note of situations in which you felt you were able to demonstrate empathy and a note when you felt you did not. Make a note of missed opportunities to respond with empathy.2. Become aware of incidents where there may be some underlying concerns that are not explicitly expressed by others.3. Make a note of possible emotions or feelings that the other person may be experiencing. Keep an open mind and never assume, merely explore the possibilities.4. Develop a list of questions to ask at your next encounter with that person. Try to make the questions open-ended, that is, questions that can't be answered by yes or no.5. Practice listening without interrupting. Wait until the other person is complete with their point of view before offering yours.6. Avoid being defensive in order to create an open dialogue where possibilities can be explored freely.7. Allow creative time for people to express opinions and ideas without judgment.8. Practice active listening: always check out the meaning of what was said with the person speaking. Paraphrasing what was said helps to clear up misconceptions and to deepen understanding.9. Always bring focus back into the conversation. Remember that optimal effectiveness is achieved by a combination of focus and empathy.10. Work on achieving an effective balance of focus, goal orientation and empathic listening.
It’s no secret that the “softer” personality traits aren’t as valued in organizations. Empathy, self-reflection, and goodwill take the backseat to efficiency, results, and profits. What would you say if I told you that fostering the former skills would actually improve the latter?
Jane Dutton, one of the founders of the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship and University of Michigan Roth School of Business, has been studying and researching compassion in the workplace. Her research shows that when you train in mindfulness, it has an immediate impact on the quality of your relationships with your colleagues.
To be an effective leader, it is crucially important to be a good listener. To be a good listener, I mean a really good listener, there are three conditions that must be met according to Dr. Thomas Gordon. They are: acceptance, empathy, and genuineness.
Dr. Gordon studied psychology with Carl Rogers, one of the most famous psychologists of all time. Rogers talked about unconditional positive regard, empathy, and congruence and Tom Gordon applied those concepts to non-therapeutic situations that were practical for parents, teachers, and managers...
Empathy is the ability to understand the other person’s point of view - both the content and emotions. It does not mean that you have to have the same feelings or experience the same things or have had the same experience in the past. Have you ever heard someone say,
“I know how you feel.” It is difficult not to be sarcastic or to respond defensively. “
No you don’t!” Or, how about, “I feel sorry for you.” Wow! How insulting “Can’t you do anything on your own? I need to do this for you as well?”
Author of the much acclaimed book Reinventing Organizations, Frederic Laloux, will discuss the emergence in many different sectors of a whole new type of organisation – one that eschews hierarchy and bureaucracy in favour of truly soulful and...
It’s the ‘soft skill’ that has hard benefits. Empathy is increasingly recognised as the key to leadership success and the cornerstone of emotional intelligence.
In looking at the key skills of the future; creativity, innovation, design, storytelling and collaboration, all require empathy.
Innovation and design cannot be done without placing humans at the center and understanding how others use technology. But one area requires the highest levels of empathy – leadership. The importance of empathy in leadership is widely discussed, it is understood to build cohesive teams and work satisfaction. Empathy is important to understand your team, helping them work to peak capacity and productivity and it is essential in understanding your market and customers.
It would appear that many organizations in India and elsewhere actually celebrate sociopathic behaviour in leaders. Some psychologists have even suggested that there may be a sweet spot, an ideal level of sociopathic trait. It helps leaders keep teams in line, and feel no empathy or remorse at cutting costs or firing employees...
In contrast, empaths, or individuals with high emotional intelligence, pose the greatest threat to a sociopathic mind.
Studies of organizational behaviour suggest that the empath may feel internally compelled to take a stand against the sociopath, but the sociopath is usually able to shift the blame on the empath, while going scot-free himself. The term 'gas-lighting effect' has been used to describe behaviours by which a sociopath will attempt to erode her opponent's reality.
We are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines who think. ~Richard Restak, George Washington University neurology professor As leaders, we need to make emotional connections with our target audience if we hope to influence their thoughts and actions. One very important way to connect positively with people is with what I call powerful empathy. …
In Business or the world of work?What is Empathy?Empathy and ConflictTwo wayEmpathy and LeadershipConclusion
One of the hallmarks of a successful business is its ability to harness creativity, to challenge the status quo, to push boundaries and to innovate. Without growth and innovation, businesses stagnate and eventually fade away. Those with staying power are likely to have mastered this important skill which allows them to focus on the future with clarity: empathy.
Empathy helps us to get along, to understand each other, to work together and to resolve problems. In the world of work, we cannot get along without it.
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