Connect to others through empathy.
People just want to be understood
When is the last time you experienced hurt or pain?
Was it during the midst of a struggle emotionally? Did you have all of the answers? Probably not. Most likely, you wished that someone was able to see deep inside of your heart and understand what you were going through.
You already knew that answers weren’t always possible; but it would’ve been so nice in that moment for someone to simply take the time to understand, or at least put in the effort to know what you were feeling.
It really means the world to those going through tough situations, hurt, or even physical pain, if you can put in the effort to see things through their eyes; and that is exactly what having empathy does.
Empathy allows you to see what someone else is seeing and do your best to feel what they feel. It is putting yourself in their place and trying to understand why they made the decisions they did; or seeking to know the reason the feel the way they do. Empathy is not easy, especially if you’ve never actually been in the place where the person you’re seeking to empathize with is at.
But, for a leader, it’s necessary to put in the effort to empathize. Why? Because a genuine leader wants to know what the people they’re leading feel. They want to come to a place where they can lead their followers better. To do this, you have to understand where people are at; and where they are coming from. Empathy helps you do this.
[clickToTweet tweet=”A genuine leader wants to know what the people they’re leading feel.” quote=”A genuine leader wants to know what the people they’re leading feel.” theme=”style3″]
In the last post, we talked about compassion, and certainly we need to have it; but truthfully, it is nearly impossible to have real compassion for another person if you are not actively trying to understand their thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
A leader worth his or her salt will care how other people feel. They will seek to lead them based on empathy.
Now, with this being said…Are there moments when the person you’re seeking to influence needs to change they way they feel? Yes. Just because a person feels a certain way, doesn’t necessarily makes their feelings correct; but for a leader who wants to lead with kindness, before you try to change people, you have to seek to understand them.
As it has been aptly stated, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Empathizing with people shows this care.
Put yourself in someone’s place
This is one of the most basic rules of empathy.
To understand someone, you have to get into their shoes to some degree.
How do you do that?
Of the several ways this can be accomplished, two of the best are to be aware of other people’s feelings; and being sensitive to their feelings.
Being aware of something is to simply know that it exists.
Far too often, leaders don’t have a clue when it comes to the feelings of those they are trying to lead; but how can you lead someone to a new place if they are hurting and don’t want to move?
You can’t. There are moments when a leader’s best intuition should be to stop and help those they are trying to lead. Maybe you cannot actually help them, maybe their problems are too great or there is no real answer; but at the very least, as a leader you need to be aware.
Being aware of someone’s hurt is kind; and if you want to influence others for their good, then kindness is what you need. Empathy shows kindness.
In fact, a leader without awareness won’t be able to lead for long. He or she will eventually run into something that takes them out.
Another way to lead people with kindness and show empathy is through being sensitive to their feelings. This takes awareness a step further. It is not just knowing that a hurt, pain, or problem exists; but it is making sure you don’t gouge it with your words and actions.
[clickToTweet tweet=”No one wants someone to lead them who doesn’t care about how they feel.” quote=”No one wants someone to lead them who doesn’t care about how they feel.” theme=”style3″]
I’ve been there, and I’m sure you have too, when a leader actually said or did something that made your emotional pain worse. Leaders are supposed to do everything they can to heal the hurts of those they lead. As a leader, being sensitive is something you need to learn. It is a skill that will help you effectively lead people who are dealing with hurt.
People are drawn to empathy
When a leader shows a real care and concern for the hurting, people will naturally gravitate towards him or her.
Why does this happen?
For two reasons…
First of all, we want to be near those who understand our hurt because they are in a unique place to help us. Second, people who are not hurting are drawn to a leader who shows empathy because they sense a care and concern in the leader and they want to be associated with a leader who helps and serves others.
As with compassion, a leader doesn’t show empathy to gain followers; but the end result is the same. People flock to those who are more about others than they are about themselves. A leader cannot lose by having empathy for people.
No one wants someone to lead them who doesn’t care about how they feel.
Here’s what to do
Empathy takes work and practice. It isn’t easy to feel what others feel, especially if you’ve never been there. With that being said, there is still something you can do to become a better empathizer.
Here it is:
Get close to those who are hurting.
The best way to start feeling the hurts of those you lead is to get close enough to them to see what they’re going through. It is much easier to identify with someone when you are near their pain.
When you are near someone’s pain, you see all that they are going through. You start to put yourself in their place. When you can see and empathize with the emotional, physical, or spiritual hurts of people, you’re in a place where you can begin to help them.
Being a leader is all about helping those you lead.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Being a leader is all about helping those you lead.” quote=”Being a leader is all about helping those you lead.” theme=”style3″]
The words of scripture are very clear about what God seeks to do for us…In Psalms 147:3 the Bible says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Now, you may not have the power to heal; but you certainly have the ability to bind up a wound.
Leaders who lead with kindness do this through empathy. It makes people feel heard and validated when others take the time to place themselves in someone else’s shoes.
So, who are you getting close to?
In your leadership, do you make time for hurting people, or do you simply cast them aside as casualties and liabilities?
Genuine leaders want to get close enough to others to help bind up their hurts and feel their pain.