(#306) The Power of Empathy For Self

The first person we have to lead and be true to remains ourselves.

On an episode of Super Soul Sunday, Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) and Oprah Winfrey had a far-ranging conversation about Goleman’s signature subject of emotional intelligence. 

Consider Emotional Intelligence (EQ) a form of “emotional hygiene.”  When we tap into it we have a better chance of tuning into what we feel and what others feel.  We are able to read other people’s emotions and expressions. We can soothe ourselves in times of angst.

Goleman also spoke about three types of empathy. Strong leaders and top performing teams, according to Goleman, have all three.

  1. Cognitive empathy. With this we can say to someone, “I know what you are feeling….I can see things from your perspective.” We communicate and connect.
  2. Emotional empathy. Goleman said that this form of empathic connection allows us to sense what another person is feeling. “I feel your distress.”
  3. Empathic concern. Here we go beyond “feeling” another’s hurt.  We want to help the person navigate the hurt.  It becomes the basis for our concern. Transformational leaders give effective feedback and help people and teams grow.

Video recommendation for the week: In this video, Goleman also tells us each empathy carries with it a potential downside.

“Aha moment.”  The three-pronged empathy juggernaut helps effective leaders grow their teams.  But often we might forget about the person closest to us who needs and can blossom with the same caring leadership.  Ourselves.

When we have difficult times how often do we communicate effectively with ourselves? Do we become our own worst bullies when we make a mistake?  Do we pile on ourselves about “how stupid that was”?

Image: David Castillo Dominici@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: David Castillo Dominici                    @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Instead of beating ourselves up, why not take time to say, “I feel your distress…I can see things from your perspective…Here is some positive feedback that may help you [me] see the distress differently.” I’m not talking about self-indulgence and moving beyond taking responsibility for actions. Far from that.

I often use the equation “E  +  R  =  O” with audiences. “E” = Event.  “R” = Reaction or Response.  “O” = Outcome.  The event rarely causes the outcome. It definitely has an impact on the outcome. But it is what we do in the middle (React or Respond) that ends up driving the bus. We do have to take responsibility for that.

I would like to add another dimension to the equation: “E  +  C  +  R  +  O.”  The “C” = Choice.  Following the stimulus (the activating Event) we have a Choice on what to do next.

When I feel my blood pressure rise because of some irritant in my life, I can fuss and fume (which, admittedly, I do more than I would like). Or I can call on empathy for myself.  Perhaps you can do the same. Perhaps you already do the same. Treating yourself with kindness and connection makes for effective leadership.

The first person we have to lead and be true to remains ourselves.

This is another example of the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we live. We can talk about the virtues of empathy. But do we practice what we preach for ourselves?  Be mindful of just that. When you have a difficult time, speak kindly to that voice that wants to denigrate your actions. Yes, maybe you did do something that was boneheaded.  OK, acknowledge it and grow from it.  You wouldn’t endlessly beat your best friend up about something she did wrong.

Then why do it to yourself?

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.

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You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 

4 Responses to (#306) The Power of Empathy For Self

  1. Ann says:

    Thanks for the timely reminder to be as kind to ourselves as we are to others–as if we liked ourselves! 😀

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  2. […] “Let me tell you about my aunt [grandmother, mother, sister, neighbor….]. She had the same thing.” (TYNH!) This often appeared to be a defense mechanism by the people with whom we shared the news. They knew nothing else to say, so they talked about someone else with cancer. If you do this, you are now subjecting the patient in front of you with someone else’s cancer story. And, again, you have denied her story. ♥Better: Like the situation above, you could acknowledge that you have had some experience with this through your aunt [grandmother, mother, sister, neighbor….] and then leave it at that. No need (unless you are asked follow-up questions) to go deeper into someone else’s story. Practice empathy. […]

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  3. […] connect each of the above items. You will find empathy in there as well (see #6, 8, and 9). A leader—or anyone for that matter—with these […]

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  4. […] The Power of Empathy for Self * The first person we have to lead and be true to remains ourselves. […]

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