NEW! Three-Part Online Course
Join us starting Wednesday, September 23 for a three-part online course. Executive Coaches Andrea Chilcote and Laura Roccaforte, along with expert guests, will lead hour-long sessions followed by 15 minutes of live Q&A. Pre-session reflection tools and post-session mini guides for implementing practices will be provided.
Module 1, September 23
Building empathy helps leaders pay attention – to their own and others’ thoughts, feelings, emotions and interactions. It is a complex process that is dependent upon self-awareness and our ability to distinguish our experiences from others’. We all want to be heard, understood, and recognized. Now more than ever, the need is for listening without bias and without a compulsion to fix or advise. Genuine empathic concern is a key ingredient.
In this segment and the series, we’ll define empathy – what it is and what it’s not. We will explore the relationship between stress, burnout, and the empathy component of emotional intelligence. You’ll learn the prerequisites for demonstrating empathy in action, as well as your personal barriers.
Module 2, September 30
Are you an empathic listener 80% of the time? Do you collaborate well with “most” people? Have the stresses of 2020 seeped into your day-to-day approach with your team?
Leadership reliability is a prerequisite for helping others. In this segment, we’ll define the intent-impact gap and how it is affecting those around you. We will take on the courageous topic of unconscious bias and help you develop the capability and capacity for unbiased listening, deepening your ability to walk in the shoes of another. We will explore key aspects of ally-ship – an intense curiosity for the sake of learning and a willingness to be transformed in the process.
Module 3, October7
Traditionally, we have lauded leaders with the so-called courage to “call-out” all that is wrong and “hold others accountable” for what they did or did not do, what they said that offended, or the incongruence with stated values that their actions created. How does a conscious and empathic leader have these conversations in way that produces change and builds engagement?
Calling-in is a discussion about difference – how you see things, how I see things and where we might bridge those differences.
In this segment we will identify the stark difference between “calling out” and “calling in,” and will offer dialogue strategies for helping ourselves and others imagine different perspectives, possibilities, or outcomes and encourage shifts in thinking and understanding.
"You can respond by turning away, or by turning toward. Turning away means closing your mind, heart, and will — in other words, acting from ignorance, hate, and fear. Turning toward means opening your mind, heart, and will — acting from curiosity, compassion, and courage. These are the choices we face in any moment: Do we turn away and close down, or do we turn toward and open up, activating the deeper levels of our humanity?" —Otto Scharmer- MIT
Being understood is not just being “listened to,” in the typical sense. It begins with empathy. Brené Brown says we have an empathy deficit in our culture. Yes. And many don’t even know what it is.
What Empathy is Not
Empathy is not a behavior. Behaviors can be utilized to express empathy: “You sound excited,” or “It looks like you’re feeling sad.” When we perceive a feeling in another, expressing that can build connection if we’re right. Stating what we see or hear is safe, because the other person can correct us. “I’m not sad – I probably look that way because I’m exhausted.” When we tell someone they are feeling something, or that we can understand how they are feeling, we’re in dangerous territory because it pre-supposes we know. In fact, we can never fully know or understand another’s experience. When we listen deeply to another, we notice signs and signals that indicate how they’re feeling. A person with a high degree of social awareness, the aspect of emotional intelligence defined by the ability to recognize the emotions of others, can pick up these signals and check them out by reflecting what they see or hear. While it’s a skill that can be built, reducing this reflection behavior to a technique misses the importance. It can seem disingenuous if the listener does not know how to separate her own feelings and biases from the observations she’s making.
Empathy is not: “What I would think or feel if I were you.” If I had someone else’s situation, I would naturally respond in different ways because my experiences, personality, likes and dislikes, and values are different.
What Empathy Is
Empathy occurs when we seek to see things from the experiential point of view of another. The word empathy comes from the Greek em meaning into and pathos meaning feelings, emotion, passion. When we experience empathic feelings, we realize that the other’s point of view is rationally consistent from his or her perspective, however disjointed it may appear from ours. Empathy does not mean we must agree with, or have positive feelings about, the other’s point of view. Empathy is about using our imagination and good will to understand another—cognitively, affectively and behaviorally—whether we agree with them or not. —Catherine Anne Lombard
An exhibit in Europe’s traveling Empathy Museum entitled A Mile In My Shoes allows visitors to literally do just that – walk in someone else’s shoes. Their website says the exhibit “holds a diverse collection of shoes and audio stories that explore our shared humanity. From a Syrian refugee to a sex worker, a war veteran to a neurosurgeon, visitors are invited to walk a mile in the shoes of a stranger while listening to their story.”
While we can never really know what another is feeling or experiencing, we can come close by approximating their state of being. It begins with the physical body – our own. If we are to metaphorically step into another’s shoes, we must first embody our own shoes in order to make the distinction. Then, we can observe ourselves from their perspective. We’ll explore ways to do this in our upcoming series.