The Startup
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The Startup

The 3 types of empathy you need to improve your business — Part I

“(…) when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection — or compassionate action.” ― Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

The term empathy was introduced to the English language by American psychologist E.B. Titchener. He coined “empathy” as a translation of the German word “Einfühlung”, but at the time, he was referring more to other phenomena, such as motor mimicry (an imitation of other people’s behaviour).

But what we understand today, is different.

Simply put, empathy can be defined as the ability to comprehend others’ thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand what is going on, without needing to have had the same experience.

Empathy takes more time and effort than sympathy and it is built on self-awareness.

Why? Because mastering your own emotions leads to being open enough (and willing to) understand others’ emotions as well.

Ever since my first blog post about Emotional Intelligence, I’ve always said that empathy, like any other skill, can be learnt and improved. Just like a muscle. You can take it to the gym to prevent decay or work on it daily to make it strong and significant.

The importance of empathy in our daily life is pretty understandable; but why are its results of such vital importance when it comes to business?

Because if we can tune ourselves to our customers, co-workers, peers and superiors, we might be able to get better and faster results.

👉 Just to name a few of them:

👉 Improving timing and quality in the delivery of goods or services, according to our clients’ needs

👉 Making important and long-lasting connections with key members in the organisation

👉 Being able to solve difficulties or help others with hindrances in time

👉 Creating bonds and connections forming the basis of loyalty

👉 Opening the doors to innovation based on mutual trust and respect

Empathy has its roots in self-awareness, nurtures itself in self-management and paves the way to relationship management.

The three types of empathy according to the Goleman model

Psychologists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman broke down the concept of empathy into the following three categories: Cognitive, Emotional and Compassionate.

Let’s take a quick look at them:

📍 Cognitive empathy: This refers to the ability to comprehend what a person might feel or think. It is like a channel of “information”.

It answers the question “What is the other person going through?”

For example, “Tom would like to speak with his supervisor about a possible promotion, but he seems to have difficulties in finding the right way to open up a conversation ” or “My clients have been asking for a direct channel of communication with my business; the Q&A page on my website does not seem to be enough for them”.

📍 Emotional empathy: This refers to the ability to understand the feelings of another person through an emotional connection.

It answers the question ➡ “How does the other person feel?”

For example: “Tom feels his supervisor is not going to pay attention to his request, he feels intimidated and insecure and this is why he is delaying the conversation” or “My clients feel frustrated as they would like to have a direct channel of communication, with a real person and not a bot”.

📍 Compassionate empathy: This is the third type, and goes far beyond the first two, as it involves action: if we understand and share the feelings of the other person, we can actually help.

It answers the question: “What can I do to help?”

For example, “I might help Tom to find ways to open up and be confident” or “I will implement a direct channel of communication on my website and a customer service line on Social Media”.

TOP TIP: words matter. Showing empathy through words helps.

👉 After encountering a new situation and needing more information: “Would you mind telling me more about this? The more I know, the quicker we can get it sorted”

👉 After discovering a new event or situation: “I just wanted to let you know that I understand what you feel”

👉 After receiving an email with a request or comment: “Would it be more convenient for you to discuss this over the phone or in person?

👉 If you feel ready to take action: “Is there anything I can do for you? ”

The post “3 types of empathy for a better life and business” originally appeared on Maitén Panella’s website at https://maitenpanella.com

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Maiten Panella

Maiten Panella

Psychologist and Psychotherapist | Business psychology for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners