Why Empathy is important to your purpose!
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
Many people & workplaces think of empathy as a ‘soft skill’ as opposed to a ‘hard skill’ such as those learned through training & education. No wonder us ‘sensitive and empathic’ souls have a ‘bad rap’! So, where & how do you learn empathy, especially if it’s not a natural strength for you?
In fact, do you even know what your natural skills and strengths are, what you’re really actually good at? Unfortunately, as a society, we grew up focusing on our weaknesses and put more attention to getting that ‘C’ grade up to an ‘A’. If you’re serious about your business, personal development and having a growth mindset to expand your business, then take this test called, StrengthsFinder and let me know your top 5 strengths.
As I’ve shared a bit earlier about empathy and WHAT some of the benefits are to you and your business, let’s take it to another level to understand more about this powerful interpersonal skill and WHY it’s critical to living your full potential. You can then learn HOW to develop this further so you can help others. Allow me to share my top strength, Empathy and how you can use your natural strengths as a leader.
“Empathy is the starting point for creating real change.” Mag Secretario
Empathy is a key strength when it comes to serving others as a coach, mentor or inspirational leader but it also allows you to become more self-aware of your own needs, helping you find your own center and rhythm. This will empower you and align your strengths with your true purpose.
Late Summer, being the 5th season represents transition and your energetic center, the balance and driving force behind your purpose, your ikigai. This is the time to focus on your center so you can serve others at a higher level. This is my biggest WHY.
Empathy is NOT to be confused with sympathy. Sympathy involves actually being affected by the other person’s perceptions, opinions and feelings while empathy gives you a better understanding of your clients’ perceptions and concerns.
Empathy enhances your communication skills because you can sense what it’s like ‘being in their shoes’. Others you serve can learn skills in empathy from you, in turn helping them to become more effective people living their purpose as well. Isn’t that why we’re all here?
“The struggle of my life created empathy – I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.” Oprah Winfrey
So here’s HOW you can begin to tap into this Superpower called Empathy:
Only by slowing down can we observe and examine how we are actually feeling. Although the end of summer is near and the holidays are around the corner, it’s a busy time. It can get even more frantic if you ignore this time for reflection. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why am I doing this and why am I feeling these emotions?
- Am I doing these things for the right reasons?
- What needs to change, if anything, to move forward?
- Get in tune with the natural world and the season. This means getting outside to experience the changing energy around you. Become self-aware by experiencing the changing colors of Late Summer, the transitions from cooler mornings to warmer afternoons and back to cooler evenings and enjoy the foods of the season. (below)
- Eat ‘grounding foods’ meaning root veggies and foods of the season. In both TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Ayurveda (Ayurvedic medicine), there is long tradition and belief that our ‘center’ is our digestive system, namely the stomach and spleen. Earth is the element of Late Summer so it makes sense to eat foods that nature provides for us at this time.
- Try a new, ‘slow’ exercise that focuses on balance like Tai Chi, Qigong or Yoga. I’m not saying to change your fitness routine, just try something different, something slower to become more aware within yourself and the rising and falling energy of your surroundings and the season. Want to take it even further? Try Tai Chi barefoot, both ‘grounding’ and ‘slow’ exercise.
Interact with new people every chance you get and ask others for their perspective. I’ve been fortunate enough to live and travel to many countries, work side by side with many nationalities solving design problems together. I believe it’s through the action or rather interactions with others that I learn more about myself. Try it yourself. Stretch yourself if you’re naturally shy and be the first to listen with intention. This builds trust and loyalty.
Finally, know the difference between your thoughts and feelings and identify your own feelings. Give your emotions a name, this way you can diffuse some of the emotionally charged systems of the brain to the more rational areas, where we can make sense of what’s really going on. I know, easier said than done!! By asking yourself whether it’s anxiety, worry, or frustration that you’re feeling then verbalizing it, helps the brain feel in control of it, rather than at the mercy of its urge to ‘flip its lid’. (More on brain neurobiology later)
“Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It’s all through our own individual prisms.” Sterling K. Brown
How are YOU feeling? I’m always open to a chat about how can you discover your SuperPower!