Definition of Empathy, together with High, Overused & Low behaviours and some Advice on how to Develop this competency (4:41 mins) Copy

Ability to understand how and why others feel the way they do, and take appropriate action to assist or support them.

Advantages when Empathy is High:

  • Acknowledges other’s feelings easily and without judgement
  • Identifies the factors that affect other’s feelings accurately
  • Readily gives personal attention to those who need it
  • Provides appropriate support on time
  • Encourages others to approach their challenges objectively

Risks when Empathy is Overused:

  • Overly sensitive and overwhelmed by feelings of others
  • Excessively patient and gets too involved in other’s issues
  • Permissive of other’s outburst even though it can be destructive
  • Self-sacrificing and over stretches at the expense of your own needs
  • Inability to disassociate from others’ issues

Risks when Empathy is Low:

  • Unmoved by others’ circumstances
  • Sceptical of others’ thoughts and feelings
  • Tendency to ignore other’s plea for help
  • Avoidance emotionally challenging situations
  • Tendency to take control by giving quick solutions rather than help others find insights

Development Advice:

  • Respond to others as a valued individual by staying focussed.
  • Be present, listen with understanding and avoid planning a response.
  • Exercise patience and tolerance when others are unsure or lost.
  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and visualize the situation as if it was happening to you. Ask yourself “What could they be feeling?”, “What could their thoughts be?”, “What kind of actions would they take?”