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Gallup's Theme Thursday is a live Webcast that targets strengths coaches and enthusiasts to provide a deeper context behind the language of strengths by talking in-depth about each of the 34 Clifton StrengthsFinder themes.
On this Theme Thursday Season Four webcast, Jim Collison, Gallup's Director of Talent Sourcing, and Maika Leibbrandt, Senior Workplace Consultant, talk about Empathy.
Empathy is experiencing the emotion of others, feeling what others feel, and connecting by sensing. People with high Empathy are emotionally intuitive. Empathy is knowing through being present and paying attention to other people.
When Empathy is at its best, it serves as a barometer. You’re understanding the absorption of your message, and those of others. The extension of Empathy is not only being able to sense but anticipating the reaction and needs of others then tailoring your work to meet their needs. If relevance is the bulls-eye, Empathy can help you increase your accuracy on the moving target. Listen for what is meaningful, when it’s meaningful, how it is best heard.
Do more by practicing putting words to the unstated and understated. Speak up for clients or customers who you sense are not being heard. Act as a delegate or a champion for your peers. Where is their positive energy? Empathy isn’t just about knowing when someone is upset, it’s also about sharing in celebration. Where is there hesitation or anxiety? Practice putting what you’re sensing into words to help your leader or peers discover what is actually happening. Take action quickly and firmly when you sense someone is behaving in a way that is unhealthy for them or others. Understanding someone’s emotional state doesn’t mean you have to excuse negative behavior. When your empathy turns to sympathy, you may be seen as overly forgiving.
Ask for freedom to release your own emotion. You sense what everyone else is feeling, and at times it may feel like you are carrying a lot of weight so you will need a safe environment, trusted relationship, or a practice that helps you let it all out without judgement. Ask for access to people in multiple channels and pay attention to when your intuition is spot on. Is it best when you’re one on one? Then ask for more one on one time. Is it over the phone? Are you excellent at honing your text empathy? Most people find their Empathy works best in person, so if that’s true for you, ask for that face time. Additionally, never eat alone. Eating with others is an opportunity to sneak in connection time that might be more available for others than looking for a scheduled meeting time.
Worry less about having a thick skin, or being stoic and unaffected in the face of emotional mess. You’re going to feel what others are feeling, so don’t pretend that doesn’t affect you. Know what kind of self-care helps you release what you’ve absorbed.
Expect people with high Empathy to be in-tune and intuitive. They may surprise you at how well they can pin you. Trust this because it’s not a show to impress you, it’s an awareness. It’s an awareness and presence with those they’re working around, playing around, or living around. You can also expect a willingness to be led. In combination to Empathy, there’s an adaptability to be led by the present moment. The best plans can change based upon how your audience is reacting.
Recognize when someone’s instinct has steered you away from the plan and lead you into perfection. Celebrate their past, present, and future Empathy. When have they uncovered something important in the past? How do they enhance the collaboration of the team right now? What are we doing in the future because of their perception or intuition?
Stretch by helping them know when and how to share what it is they’re picking up on. Pay attention to Empathy as an instrument. Fine tune it by helping them know who their most important stakeholders and customers are. Help them focus their Empathy towards those people. Play back to them great words they’ve used to describe emotion. Challenge them to develop an extensive vocabulary to describe emotion and give it a project or performance boost. For example: “In that meeting we just had, I got the sense that you were feeling apprehensive about starting the interns on such a big project. Can you tell me more about that and what might make it easier for us?”
Partner by asking them what they’re sensing and allow them time to think about it. Ask things like, “What’s your impression of..?”, “How did that land with..?”, and “When might be a good time to…?” Be honest with them about your own emotion and reaction. They’ll know if you’re not being honest, and they’ll appreciate your ability to speak their language.
If Empathy is one of your Dominant Themes, invest in it this week through the following challenge items:
1.Develop Killer Questions: Share a coffee with someone and spend the conversation asking great questions that help them describe their own experience and emotion. At the end, debrief individually by listing the best questions you asked. You know you’re asking a great question when the other person talks more!
2.Journal your own emotions for 1 week. Give yourself quick check-ins throughout the day and write down what you are feeling. Try to use different words to describe your experience each time.
3.Listen to a guided meditation (one of my favorites is called “Just Breathe” in a specific app, but just search for one). Do this for 5 minutes to help you release any emotion you may be holding onto that isn’t yours.
If Empathy is not one of your Dominant Themes, invest in it this week through the following challenge items:
1.Develop a conversation question that demonstrates you care about others. It could be “How are you feeling?”, “What’s most important to you today?” or “How full is your tank?” Ask yourself what works for you that you truly care about knowing and ask it 5 times this week.
2.Which themes help you connect with others?