Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video Having empathy, part of Communication Tips Weekly.
- I hope you are surrounded by empathetic people because they make great friends, partners, and colleagues. Empathetic people grasp your point of view. They get how you feel and they treat you as someone truly valuable to them. We can be those empathetic listeners to people around us when we practice a few simple habits: Listen attentively, reflect head and heart, realize that saying "I'm sorry" doesn't mean "I failed." Watch the following conversation and notice the times I missed the chance to demonstrate empathy.
- Brenda, I need to talk to you about this. Remember the PowerPoint that you were supposed to give me changes for about three days ago? You didn't, so I didn't have time to make any changes, and guess who was in front of 70 students (text tone) with a PowerPoint that had typos, that had changes that weren't made. There were even a few blank slides in there. Great, I looked like a fool. - Wait a minute, it sounds like you're blaming me for this. I didn't get the information from the client until the day before I gave it back to you. - But you were supposed to give this to me three days before. Why didn't you tell me? - I assumed you had got it. They're your client.
- But I did not know. I looked like a-- - You know what? Whatever. Whatever. - Is that what we're gonna do about it? Whatever? - It's not my issue. - I don't know. Now imagine how differently Tatiana would feel about our conversation, about our relationship, and about me if I practiced the art of empathy. - Hey Brenda, I need to talk to you. - Yeah sure, what's up? - You know this PowerPoint you were supposed to give me changes for about three days ago? Well, the changes didn't come and I was in front of a class of about 70 students, and there were typos, (text tone) there were blank slides. Are you gonna get that? There were people that were asking me questions I couldn't answer.
I looked like a total idiot in front of 70 students. - Tatiana, I am so sorry. I never wanted you to feel embarrassed or to have your credibility get questioned in front of them. - Well it was, it was. It was agony. - I know and I am sorry. I'm hearing you. You didn't get the content when you thought you would and I'm not exactly sure what we should do differently about it. We didn't get it from the client in time so we're gonna have to figure out what we should do differently. - I should've known about that sooner. I mean, is there anything else that we can change in the process? That was awful.
- I think that's what we need to figure out. Let's try to think it through, brainstorm. Hopefully at this point Tatiana and I will move into a productive problem-solving conversation without all the blaming and finger pointing because I've practiced the three steps of empathy. I listened attentively even when my phone chirped. I reflected head and heart by paraphrasing her emotional state, embarrassed, and the content of what she had been saying.
I heard her say she didn't get the information on time. And finally, I apologized even though it may not be my fault we missed the deadline. I'm still sorry that she was put into a difficult situation. Think of a recent conversation you've had with someone. Imagine what the art of empathy would've looked like during that conversation. What is one way in which you could've displayed even more empathy? As you display a genuine understanding and concern for others, you may be pleasantly surprised at how smooth your challenging conversations can become.
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