The Magical Power of Empathy

What is Empathy?

Empathy is the idea of stepping into the shoes of another person and what they’re going through. Just like the famous saying, “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” Removing your barriers and letting go to fully understand what it’s like in the life of another. What a world it would be in if we did more of that.

But that leaves a few questions…

How can we grow with empathy?

First and foremost, start by increasing your self-awareness. This lets you sense others more accurately and really seek to understand them. If we aren’t all together ourselves, we can’t branch out to recognize the issues that someone else may be dealing with.

As a leader, increasing your awareness is also critical to improving your empathy and compassion. Having awareness on a personal level may be important, but an organizational awareness of what’s happening in all the different facets from the organization’s top to the bottom is just as crucial. Begin by getting in touch with your inner control and learning to harness it in a way where you can change the way you think. Then, be committed to meeting someone step by step on the path of their journey and truly sink into their shoes.

Your journey will begin by committing to do something about anything you see, hear, or the inconvenient truths you might uncover.

By increasing your interaction with your employees, it becomes much easier to gather a sense of how they’re feeling and understand their sentiment in a way that cannot be conveyed in digital communication.

How Do I do This ‘Seeking to Understand’ Thing?

The beginning stages of empathy and seeking to understand someone may come with a lot of uncertainty. What if you don’t have the same experiences? What if there is no commonality in your backgrounds? Although relating to someone on a similar level does make it easier to empathize, those pieces are less important in the bigger picture. Andrew Sobel does a great job listing “Eight Ways to Improve Your Empathy.” 

1. Challenge yourself

2. Get out of your usual environment

3. Get feedback

4. Explore the heart not just the head

5. Walk in others’ shoes

6. Examine your biases

7. Cultivate your sense of curiosity

8. Ask better questions

Those are just put simply. Furthermore, you must allow yourself to fully empty out and become a blank slate. That’s the key to fully immersing yourself in understanding. Remove your mask, remove your filter, and lastly, remove your background and step fully and wholly into theirs.

How Can I Dive into Empathy?

Let go of yourself a bit. This may be much easier said than done. But, it can certainly be accomplished. You just have to be open to it. Empathizing with another person is something that can’t be forced. You have to WANT to relate to them on that compassionate level.

So, how can you begin to do that? Release your need to control the situation and interact with them in their space. You’ll be able to exercise that compassion and engage with them, so you can begin to brainstorm together.

Empathy is a radical power. Some people are indeed more empathetic naturally, but if we have the desire, we can work towards it. So let’s work together to release the magical power of empathy into the world. Wouldn’t that be great?


Heather Younger
Heather Younger
Heather Younger gets it. As a best-selling author, international TEDx speaker, podcast host, facilitator, and Forbes Coaches Council coach, she has earned her reputation as “The Employee Whisperer”. Her experiences as a CEO, entrepreneur, manager, attorney, writer, coach, listener, speaker, collaborator and mother all lend themselves to a laser-focused clarity into what makes employees of organizations and companies – large and small - tick. Heather has facilitated more than 150 workshops, reaching +100 employers and their employees. Her motivation and philosophy have reached more than 20,000 attendees at her speaking engagements on large and small stages. Companies have charted their future course based on her leading more than 100 focus groups. In addition, she has helped companies see double-digit employee engagement score increases through the implementation of her laws and philosophies. She has driven results in a multitude of industries, including banking, oil & gas, construction, energy, and federal and local government. Heather brings a tenacious and inspirational outlook to issues plaguing the workforces of today. Her book “The 7 Intuitive Laws of Employee Loyalty” hit the Forbes Must-Read list and is a go-to source for HR professionals seeking insight into their organization's dynamics. Heather’s writing can also be found on her blog at EmployeFanatix, as well as articles in Forbes, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, American Express Open Forum, and more. Coupled with her Leadership with Heart podcast, weekly videos, and employer newsletters, Heather stays connected to organizations long after she leaves the stage or conference roomWhen all the emails are returned and the mic is turned off, and Heather acts as co-manager of her busy household in Aurora, Colorado with her husband, where they oversee their four children.

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