May 11, 2012 Communication, Leadership

Cultivate Empathy: It’s Important

Empathy is the ability to read a person’s responses by visualizing yourself in his or her place.

Exceptional communicators and leaders have the ability to sense what others are thinking.  They don’t always have a quick answer or suggestion.  When you are listening to someone, turn on your intuition. Use your imagination and past experience in similar situations to give you some indications as to what the other person is feeling. Forget about yourself and what you want to say next. Instead, imagine that you are the other person, even if just for a minute.

When people tell you about something that’s bothering them, they often talk around a subject instead of getting to the point.

Here are four questions that may help you get more insight and be more helpful:

•    “What do you consider to be the fundamental issue underneath all of this?”

•    “”If you had the choice, what would you most like to have happen now given the situation?”

•    “Can you give me three specific things that concern you about this issue?”

•    “What other issues are also bothering you about this situation?”

When people are facing a problem and come to you for help, they want to know that you are listening and in tune with their feelings. Asking questions will help them see their situation more clearly and help you understand the real underlying concerns.  Sometimes just listening to your questions, people can think through the issue more clearly and resolve their own problem.