Empathy – The Ultimate Goal

The past two weeks I’ve been talking about taking your emotional temperature and subsequently being able to regulate that emotional temperature so you can give yourself the highest chance of being at your best. Well, what about helping others be at their best, especially during challenging moments or times?

Many leadership and management schools of thought talk about this at length – helping others be at their best is, of course, a major leadership competency.  Let me invite you to take an emotional perspective on this. Just as we discussed taking your emotional temperature, is it not possible to take someone else’s emotional temperature? Sure it is. Try it. At your next meeting, look at someone, anyone, in your presence. Based on their verbals and non-verbals, can you guesstimate their emotional temperature? Is it Low, Medium or High? Sure you can. You already do it.

For example, and for illustrative purposes I will exaggerate this, if the person in question is paying attention to you, asking questions, taking notes, and seems highly present and engaged, it’s safe to assume that their emotional temperature is in a very good state (Low) and that the meeting with them will likely be very productive. Conversely, if the person is not engaged, abrasive, not paying attention, or disengaged, then chances are that they will not be at their best.  Having the ability to emotionally recognize the emotional state of others is what empathy is (similar to your own self-awareness).

Based on this recognition, and similar to your own self regulation skills, where you can change your own emotional temperature to give yourself the best chance for success, can you also regulate someone else’s emotional state? Sure you can.  For example, and I will exagerrate again for illusrative purposes, what if you reminded someone who was disengaged of a time that they came up with a brilliant idea (a time when they were at their best)? Might the memory of that positive experience trigger a positive emotion? For all the people who you work with or who work for you, do you have a list of things they have done that were their best… that you can recount when they are not at their best? If you had this list, what impact could you have on their ability to return to a better emotional temperature for higher success?

My personal bias is that true empathy is one of the more profound states of emotional being. To be in constant touch with others in this manner opens doors for tremendous creativity and platform to build richer relationships… and getting to better outcomes… whatever they may be. Try this at home with your spouse, significant other, or children. In the heat of battle that is invariably present in all relationships, conjure up good memories and remind others of how good you and they have been and are capable of being. You will instantly change the texture of the moment, disarming even the strongest of negative emotions, and creating more reasons for others to want to love you and work with you.

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3 responses to “Empathy – The Ultimate Goal

  1. Very nice article. I use many of these tools with my clients. Great content.

  2. Pingback: Empathy – The Ultimate Goal | HRM Today

  3. Pingback: Trigger Stimulants « Professional Development

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