“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

Empathy is the ability to understand other’s feelings and then apply this awareness to further your understanding of how these feelings affect their wants and needs. Empathetic leaders are more effective leaders. However, even if you normally are an empathetic person in your personal relationships, sometimes this empathy is lost in your professional life, as you focus on the day-to-day demands of your job. Following are four ways you can become an empathetic leader.

  1. Really listen. You may “hear” what others are saying to you, but are you truly “listening?” Oftentimes body language and tone are equally as important when determining the feelings behind a message as the words themselves. Don’t spend the conversation thinking about how you’re going to reply. Instead, really pay attention to the other person, repeat back to them what you think they are saying and ask them to verify that you’ve heard their message clearly.

  2. Withhold judgment. Empathetic leaders don’t judge what others are feeling. They understand that what a person feels is neither right nor wrong, even if it isn’t the way they feel about a situation. Acknowledge the other person’s feelings are valid and then use this information to better understand their point of view.

  3. Ask questions. An empathetic leader doesn’t simply rely on information they initially receive, they delve deeper into the thoughts and feelings of those involved. The more information you have, the better your decisions will be! Plus, when you ask people to expound on a topic or clarify what they mean, you are showing that you care about their opinion, further building trust in the relationship – a win-win situation!

  4. Know yourself. We all have personal biases that affect our thoughts, feelings and decisions. By acknowledging what biases you hold, you can help ensure they don’t negatively affect your ability to be empathetic. Understanding your own feelings and how they affect your thoughts on situations helps you better understand how other’s feelings could impact their thoughts on situations.

About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert

CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.

Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690.