Empathy and you?

How Empathetic Are You?

The importance of Empathy

Every morning I ease myself into the day with a cup (or two!) of tea and the authoritative tones of the Today programme on Radio 4. This week I was surprised to hear a conversation about the importance of Empathy, which caught my attention. Listening more closely, I heard Professor Stephen Scott, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, explain that one per cent of children display callous-unemotional traits, a condition he says is “largely unrecognised”. He went on to explain “We don’t like using the word psychopath in under 18s, but there is a high continuity to becoming a so-called antisocial personality disorder with psychopathic traits

Understand what others are experiencing

Empathy is, at its simplest, awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. It is a key element of Emotional Intelligence, the link between self and others, because it is how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing. As a coach it is vital that we demonstrate empathy to our clients if we are to build trusting and supportive relationships

So – can empathy be developed or is it something you either have or don’t have? According to the latest neuroscience research, 98% of people (with the exception of those with psychopathic tendencies) have the ability to empathise wired into their brains – an in-built capacity for stepping into the shoes of others and understanding their feelings and perspectives. The problem is, in the midst of busy lives, we are often so focused on our own needs we forget to consider the needs of others.

Below are three simple strategies for developing your empathic potential

Develop your listening skills. As coaches we strive to demonstrate ‘deep listening’ listening for what is not said as well as the words. Listening out for people’s feelings and needs give then a sense of being understood and deep listeners are able to reflect the feelings expressed and summarise what they are hearing.

 Unconditional Positive Regard. Coaches meet others as equals, valuing the person as doing their best to move forward in their lives constructively and respecting the person’s right to self-determination.

Be curious Too often we are quick to judge those who others whose lives are different from ours but taking the time to understand someone else can help challenge the assumptions and prejudices that we have developed about others based on their appearance, accents or backgrounds.

Why not join one of our open programmes here and experience the difference that developing your empathy skills can make to your professional and personal relationships.

For further information on any of our courses please contact us.