The day the CEO learned the importance of empathy "Some people are just more naturally empathic than others" the CEO brusquely informed me. "It's not personal, it's business" he went on quoting that bundle of joy Donald Trump. "They should know what's good for them, and do what I suggest. Why should I have to influence them or show empathy?" The CEO pushed back his chair as if our session were over. His company was struggling. Several key staff had recently departed and were working for a competitor. He still insisted that empathy was not something he needed to do, and he was perfectly capable of influencing his team. It was they who needed to change, not him. You've met someone like this I'm sure. And you're wondering how I'm going to suggest that they change right? But no, there is a twist here. How do you influence them to have more empathy and more easily influence others? You see, it's terrific to have someone like that CEO in your life. You are not like him. You care. You show a genuine concern, and there are only a few people who, well, they simply don't deserve your love and respect. How do you show empathy for someone and influence them when they don't "do" empathy? Especially when you know that they really need to "do" empathy so that they can be a better Especially when you know that they really need to "do" empathy so that they can be a better influencer. You’ll recall from the triangle of influence that in order to influence someone, we need to link what we want them to do to the resources it will cost them and the benefits that they will gain for themselves by doing it. (If you need a reminder about the triangle of influence, I’d suggest you jump over there now and come back afterwards.) I Colour I Listen - Developing Active Listening Skills and Empathy Download the Be a Better Influencer PDF Download the Be a Better Influencer MP3 audio Download the I Colour I Listen Template Empathy develops Trust. And Trust enables us to Influence others. When we Influence others, we lead them. For the influencer, we are left with a causal chain: Without empathy how will you know what is important for them? Without you showing empathy, how am I going to trust you? If I don’t trust you, how are you going to influence me? If you don’t influence me, how are you going to lead me? To be a better influencer, we really need to know how to have and show empathy. I wrote a short while back about the usefulness of empathy and how it differs from sympathy. The difference is huge. Sympathy is passive; empathy is active. (Pop over to that article if you need a refresher. It does a great job of describing the difference—and how empathy fuels connection while sympathy drives disconnection.) In short, if I am to influence someone, they need to have some level of trust in me. To trust me, I will need to have, and have shown, empathy with them. That is, I need to identify with them. Let us first consider how we can have and show empathy with someone. Then how we build trust with that person, and lastly, how we can use this to be a better influencer. But before that, let me share the dictionary definition of empathy so that we agree on what it is: em•pa•thy "the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another." Dictionary.com Imagine for a moment that I am sitting opposite you and what I am about to share with you is both critically important and valuable for you. You sit up a little taller, lean your head forward and focus your eyes on me. You carefully watch every nuance of expression, listening attentively to every word. Nodding appropriately as you take in and understand each point I make. Bring to mind two people in your life that you have known for some time. The first person is someone with whom you have a good, strong and close relationship. You trust them to be in your corner, to support you and, they understand you well. The second individual is someone with whom you hav
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