People Skills Empathy: Do We Give It or Project Our Needs?
by Kate Nasser |
People skills and empathy are words we often hear in the same sentence. People skills empathy — go hand in hand. Feeling what others feel (empathy) overcomes the me syndrome and people skills build the connection. Sounds good.
Now for the vital question …
Do we give empathy?
Or do we actually project our feelings and need onto others?
Image by Eva the Weaver via Creative Commons License.
People Skills Empathy or Projection?
True empathy connects people. Projecting feelings and calling it empathy creates space between people. If you think you are giving empathy yet find the response is cold or negative, you may have projected your feelings and needs onto them!
Is Fear Blocking Empathy?
Are you comfortable with engagement and connecting with others? Or, do you fear that it leads to entanglement? This fear of entanglement can block empathy. Yet few people want to admit they aren’t empathetic. Projection kicks in as a comfortable replacement.
Are You Comfortable Being Equal?
Empathy and engagement represent equal footing with others. How does equality feel to to you? Good or bad? Do you prefer to always feel like the one who can fix things? If you are thinking of your need instead of theirs you will project it. This blocks true empathy.
Empathy: Inbound Before Outbound.
Empathy starts as an inbound activity. Great questions, relinquishing judgment, and (for some people) intuition collect the feelings data. Processing that information produces empathetic behavior.
Skipping the inbound step makes it impossible to send out empathy. Projection will take over.
Practical Steps to Empathy
- Self-awareness smooths the way. The more self-aware we are, the less likely that projection will block or conquer empathy.
- Gather input with great questions. If you are intuitive, verify your intuition. This prevents projection.
- Get comfortable with statements that show connection without immediate action. “I feel for you … Wow that’s horrible… or, how wonderful” are just a couple of suggestions. The phrase “I understand” can be troublesome for it sounds generic and overused.
- Clarify if someone wants advice or just empathy. This is a biggie! Some people just want to be heard. Sometimes they are not ready to take action. Other times they have already decided what they will do. They just want the energy of connection with others.
- Be ready for the input to be positive! We most often think of empathy as feeling someone’s pain. How about empathy as a celebration of someone’s triumph over pain? When people are pulling themselves up and want empathy for their effort, it’s maddening to receive a “let me in to help you in your pain” response.
People skills empathy can build tight bonds for success in ways that no other skill can. It isn’t limited to painful moments.
It is the moments where we connect without artifice, hidden agenda, manipulation, or domination. It is the purity of empathy that builds incredible trust and sustains us both now and in the future.
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
Super People Skills Mindset: 3 Basic Beliefs
©2013 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email email@example.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.