Empathy is a cornerstone of relationships. When we speak and listen with empathy others feel heard and respected, relationships improve, and we positively influence others.
Self-test: Do you speak and listen with empathy?
- When talking: Do your words add to your listener’s life—are you giving them a gift, or dumping emotional waste? Are your words constructive and useful? Is your tone positive?
- When listening: Do you give your full attention? Are you actually present for that person, or just waiting for them to shut up so you can speak? Do you catch yourself interrupting, or planning what you’re going to say? Is your listening a gift, the gift of being heard? Or are you listening to fix, to know the right answer, to show off?
- When giving feedback: Are your words timely, constructive and kind? Do you speak to help?
- When teaching, training or parenting: Is your aim to be of service? Do you keep the focus on learning?
- When talking to kids: Do you remember that you are physically intimidating to little ones? Do you get down to their level? Do you speak gently, calmly and carefully? Do you keep your words positive?
- In self talk: We underestimate the influence of what we say to ourselves. Would you speak to others, or allow others to speak to you, in the same way you speak to yourself? Would you speak to a child that way?
Don’t worry if you didn’t score perfectly on the test. Just work to be aware of adding empathy to your conversations and presentations. Your work, relationships and mental outlook will improve, and you might even start being nicer to yourself!