Developing Professional Empathy

As a HR profession I had to deal with humans every day and of course humans no more looked as resources these days. So how to have this mental transition from looking human as human and not as resources or machine. The single most things which will help each one of us to establish this connection is to focus on understanding human emotions; if I had to name it it would be “Empathy”.

I was reading few books on Psychology, Human Relations, Employee Relations and Parenting the single most entity which I believe, will make life change for you in terms of valuing emotions. I tried to keep the term “Empathy” simple and easy to understand. This post will not only help you to understand what empathy is? but also how can you build up a relation by imbibing empathy quotient in yourself. Thank God I read “Mr. John Medina” which inspired me to share with you the application to imbibing this single most powerful emotional reflex.

How would you define “Empathy”?

I made a simple google search which defines empathy as -

“Skill of reflecting back to another person the emotions he or she is expressing so that he or she feels heard and understood. Empathy involves listening to others, understanding them, and communicating this understanding to them.”

Empathy not only helps in building relationship in corporate life but it has a far reaching effect on our marriages and also is the foundation of effective parenting.

Empathy can be defined in three key ingredients:

1. Affect detection — A person must detect a change in emotional disposition of someone else. In behavioral science “Affect” means the external expression of an emotional or mood, generally associated with an idea or an action.

2. Imaginative Transposition — Once a person detects an emotional change, he transposes what he observes onto his own psychological interiors. He “Tries on” (wearing in a trial room) the perceived feelings as if they were clothes, then observe how he would react given similar circumstances (In theatre — Stanislavski’s method acting).

3. Boundary Formation — The person who is empathizing realizes at all times that the emotion is happening to the other person, never to the observer. Empathy is powerful, but it also has boundaries.

Make Empathy a reflex: 1st response to emotional situation.

1. Describe the emotional changes you think you see.

I.e. in a given scenario what do you see? What kind of feelings is flowing through? Is sad / depressed / aggressive / pain / joy / ecstatic

2. Make a guess as to where those emotional changes came from?

This is very important, as to get from what lead to such feeling and quote it.

3. Try to be really curious about other people, imagining what might be going in their lives

4. Take time to consider what we have in common with people and pay more attention to that, instead of focusing on what makes us different

5. During conversation, try to ask more questions and spend more time listening

It’s just the matter of our attention to see emotions playing around, understand it and stay affirmative. Hope this post is going to help you on the applied side of what we say empathy — the emotion which we fail to feel.