How to Lead with Empathy (Without Becoming an Emotional Punching Bag)

What is Empathy?

empathy is powerful because it enables you to create better relationships, and to find collaborative solutions rather than creating an antagonistic experience

Fight or Flight

  • Fight response If this happens they could become very defensive and start arguing back. For example they’ll give you all the reasons they were sick, why they couldn’t come in, why they had to cancel at the last minute. It’s never their fault, of course! But they have gone into fight mode.
  • Flight response Or they could completely shut down and not engage in the conversation just hoping that it will end. For example they’ll just say ‘Yep, yep, yep, yep. I’m going to be on time from now on’. And then, of course, they’re not on time.

The Empathetic Approach

  • Actually, my child is sick at home
  • I’m really worried about my elderly relative.
  • My partner is really sick and I’m trying to convince them to go to the doctor, but they won’t go.

Empathy vs Sympathy

Empathy vs Being Nice

  • How long will this situation last?
  • What alternatives are there?
  • Can you change to a role on the project that is not so time-dependent?

Empathy vs Emotional Overwhelm

What Can You Do If Empathy Becomes Overwhelming?

  • I think this is really important. Do you have someone at home to support you?
  • Do you have any friends you can trust to talk to?
  • Do you have a good GP?
  • Would you like some help finding support options?

Empathetic Leadership

Listen in for more on empathetic leadership

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Karen Kirton

Karen Kirton

Founder of Amplify HR — a consulting company in Australia that specialises in enabling businesses to find, grow and keep great people.