3 types of empathy for a better life (and business)

3 types of empathy for a better life (and business)


Empathy: a definition

The term empathy was introduced to the English language by American psychologist E.B. Titchener. He coined “empathy” as a translation of the German word “Einfühlung”, but at the time, he was referring more to other phenomena, such as motor mimicry (an imitation of other people’s behaviour).

But what we understand today, is different.

Simply put, empathy can be defined as the ability to comprehend others’ thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand what is going on, without needing to have had the same experience.

Empathy takes more time and effort than sympathy and it is built on self-awareness.

Why? Because mastering your own emotions leads to being open enough (and willing to) understand others’ emotions as well.

“(…) when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”
― Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

What will we be covering here

The importance of empathy

Which results?

Three types of empathy

Words matter

Empathy in the workplace

How to practice empathy

How to improve it

Ever since my first blog post about Emotional Intelligence, I’ve always said that empathy, like any other skill, can be learnt and improved. Just like a muscle. You can take it to the gym to prevent decay or work on it daily to make it strong and significant.

The importance of empathy in our daily life is pretty understandable; but why are its results of such vital importance when it comes to business?

Because if we can tune ourselves to our customers, co-workers, peers and superiors, we might be able to get better and faster results.

Just to name a few of them:

👉 Improving timing and quality in the delivery of goods or services, according to our clients’ needs

👉 Making important and long-lasting connections with key members in the organisation

👉 Being able to solve difficulties or help others with hindrances in time

👉 Creating bonds and connections forming the basis of loyalty

👉 Opening the doors to innovation based on mutual trust and respect

Empathy has its roots in self-awareness, nurtures itself in self-management and paves the way to relationship management.

TOP TIP

As with any other skill, empathy needs to be interlinked with other competencies and work in tandem with them to really perform at its maximum potential. 

The three types of empathy according to the Goleman model

Psychologists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman broke down the concept of empathy into the following three categories: Cognitive, Emotional and Compassionate.

Let’s take a quick look at them:

Cognitive empathy

This refers to the ability to comprehend what a person might feel or think. It is like a channel of “information”.
It answers the question: “What is the other person going through?” For example, “Tom would like to speak with his supervisor about a possible promotion, but he seems to have difficulties in finding the right way to open up a conversation ” or “My clients have been asking for a direct channel of communication with my business; the Q&A page on my website does not seem to be enough for them”.

Emotional empathy

This refers to the ability to understand the feelings of another person through an emotional connection. It answers the question: “How does the other person feel?” For example: “Tom feels his supervisor is not going to pay attention to his request, he feels intimidated and insecure and this is why he is delaying the conversation” or “My clients feel frustrated as they would like to have a direct channel of communication, with a real person and not a bot”.

Compassionate empathy

This is the third type, and goes far beyond the first two, as it involves action: if we understand and share the feelings of the other person, we can actually help. It answers the question: “What can I do to help?” For example, “I might help Tom to find ways to open up and be confident” or “I will implement a direct channel of communication on my website and a customer service line on Social Media”.

TOP TIP: words matter.

Showing empathy through words helps.

After encountering a new situation and needing more information: “Would you mind telling me more about this? The more I know, the quicker we can get it sorted”

After discovering a new event or situation: “I just wanted to let you know that I understand what you feel”

After receiving an email with a request or comment: “Would it be more convenient for you to discuss this over the phone or in person?

If you feel ready to take action: “Is there anything I can do for you? ”

Empathy in the workplace

In their 4th annual empathy study, Businessolvers’ report shows that:

📌 72% of CEOs say the state of empathy needs to evolve

📌 58% of them struggle with showing it in a consistent way

It is clear that there is still a lot to be done. Even though corporations are aware of the importance of incorporating empathy into the culture of the organization, there is still a gap between the intention and the action.

Making empathy part of the company’s culture calls for a conscious effort.


Why is it so important to build emotional empathy and implement it?

Research has already proven that empathy, among other things:

👉 boosts productivity
👉 accelerates innovation
👉 increases loyalty and customer satisfaction
👉 creates long term bonds and cooperation

So, given that there is still so much to do in this field, let’s take a look at simple but effective solutions that we can implement right away:

• Show gratitude: say thank you more often, appreciate the time and effort that others invest in you, your product and your service. Give credit for the things well done. Being grateful not only creates bonds but also shows respect and helps with dignity.

• Show you listen: practicing active listening restores confidence and helps build loyalty. A high percentage of employees, as well as customers, feel their opinion doesn’t matter. Make yourself available: create surveys, ask direct questions, handle 1-to-1 meetings, be sure that your customer service is giving the needed assistance.

• Share stories with a positive outlook, whenever you can but especially before beginning a meeting. Sharing creates a bond and helps to set an ambiance of collaboration and willingness, openness and receptiveness.

• Listen to your co-workers and team members. Make some extra time to give others the opportunity to share. Make room, physically and emotionally, for the others’ experiences. Let people talk and listen to their stories.

3 top tips to improve your empathy

👉 Know yourself and your emotions

👉Practice active listening

👉 Open up space for reflection

 

👉 Know yourself: self-awareness and self-management are the first steps that will help you improve empathy. Both will help you with: knowing yourself, your emotions and reactions, and also, being ready to manage your own feelings, creating, with confidence, a space to listen carefully to others.

👉Practice active listening and connect with the other person. Be interested in speech but also in body language. Open yourself up to understand and if you don’t, ask questions, be curious and willing to learn and understand new perspectives. Focus on understanding the situation (cognitive empathy) and how the person feels (emotional empathy).

👉 Open up space for reflection and practice self-awareness: you can relate to the others’ experience if you have had a similar one, but you can also imagine how it looks if you don’t. Explore your own feelings and emotions and ask yourself what you would do in a similar situation. Get ready to implement a solution and take action, showing compassionate empathy. Simply, ask: how can I help?

 


By now, you know that developing these skills will certainly help improve your social and emotional intelligence quotients.

If you want to improve this important skill, book a free 15-minute consultation with me. After the call, you will get a follow-up email with my proposed plan of action.

 

Chronotypes. Want to be more productive? Pay attention to your Circadian Rhythms.

Chronotypes. Want to be more productive? Pay attention to your Circadian Rhythms.

Chronotypes

Pay attention to your Chronotypes and Circadian Rhythms.

Discover the best way to function at your maximum performance level and be able to prioritise and manage your tasks.

What will we be covering here?

What is a Circadian Rhythm?

What is a Chronotype?

Knowing Larks and Owls

Dr Breus and the question of “when”

The four mammals

Synchronicity between your chronotype and your life

Manage your energy

Take an assessment

Get to know the Chronotypes and the Circadian Rhythms

What is a Circadian Rhythm?

In short, the Circadian Rhythm is a sort of internal clock, controlled mainly by the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that controls many things, such as your hormones, temperature, appetite, sexual behaviour and emotions.

chronotypes

Hypothalamus

This internal biological clock is reset every day by sunlight, and is different for each person, although its main function is exactly the same for all of us: to regulate the periods of sleepiness and wakefulness during the day.

So, this is the clock that tells you which part of the day you are more alert and which part you’ll find your energy levels lower and you feel more sleepy.

Because the circadian rhythm likes regularity, it functions at its best when you follow routines: going to bed at the same hour, eating at the same time each day etc.

This is why you might feel uneasy when you disturb this rhythm (for example, travelling abroad and dealing with jet lag).

What is a Chronotype?

When we talk about chronotypes, we are referring to the manifestation of the circadian rhythm, in the form of personal behaviour. Even though it is passed through the PER3 gene and therefore its origin is genetic, it might change over the years due to a number of reasons such as age, environment and hormones.

A more common classification describes people as either larks or owls, larks being the people that perform best in the mornings, and owls being the ones that are more alert in the evening.

Larks and owls can be differentiated, not just by sleeping patterns, but also by other behaviours and needs, such as appetite and exercise.

“According to conventional wisdom, there are three chronotypes: larks rise early, owls rise late, and hummingbirds are somewhere between the two.”

So, how can we adjust our daily performance for optimal business productivity in relation to these chronotypes?

If you’re a lark If you’re an owl
Try to concentrate on analytical tasks during the early hours Leave all analytical tasks for the late afternoon or evening
Leave all creative tasks for the afternoon Try to do more creative tasks in the morning

To make it all easier, create a table with three columns where you can list your tasks and divide them into two big groups:

🖊 tasks that require focus, concentration and analysis

🖊 tasks that require creativity and expression

🖊 Then the third column is for notes.

If a task falls into both groups, you simply repeat the task in both columns and add a note about the aspect that you will tackle, specifically, during each part of the day.

Top Tip: For example, writing an article might require creativity (mainly with regard to the idea but also the writing), lots of research about the topic and of course, proofreading. Each one of those tasks would fit into a different column.

Top Tip: a task might belong to more than one column


For example, writing an article might require creativity (mainly with regard to the idea but also the writing), lots of research about the topic and of course, proofreading.

Each one of those tasks would fit into a different column.

Dr Breus and the question of “when”.

Dr Michael Breus, a psychologist and sleep specialist, described 4 different chronotypes following different structures but based on mammals. Mainly because we – humans – are not birds.

That question is “when.” “When” is the ultimate life hack. It’s the foundation of success, the key that unlocks a faster, smarter, better, and stronger you. – The Power of When

In his book, The Power of When, Dr Breus highlights the fact that our ancestors were deeply connected to their bodies, knowing when to perform certain acts like hunting, cooking or procreating.

Daylight and night time were perfectly distinguished as well.

Later on, civilization imposed its own rules and now, the modern era sees us doing all kind of activities in a perpetual “night”, with artificial lights, in front of all sorts of monitors.

The Four Chronotypes

Let’s take a brief look at the four chronotypes and their relationship with periods of alertness and drowsiness.

Dolphins: they wake up feeling fatigued and in fact, they can continue to feel tired late into the evening. They are totally alert late at night and might even suffer from insomnia. Their productivity ebbs and flows throughout the day.

Lions: they wake up early and do not feel tired until the late afternoon. They can fall asleep pretty easily and they are more productive in the morning.

Bears: they are slow risers as they do not wake up feeling fresh and awake. They tend to feel tired by the evening. Their productivity peaks before noon and they feel most alert from mid-morning to the early afternoon.

Wolves: they are evening types, so waking up in the morning can be a difficult task. They don’t feel tired until midnight or even later, so it’s in the late evening that their productivity is at its best.

Let’s take a look at the ideal routine for each chronotype, according to Shana Lebowtitz’s chart published on Business Insider and based on Dr Breus’ book.

chronotypes

But, what happens when your schedule and your chronotype cannot sync?

Let’s say you are a wolf, and your work (a well paid and interesting job) requires you be at the office by 8 a.m.

Well, you force yourself to adjust. Knowing your internal rhythm can help you to alleviate the burden and make the most out of the situation.

Manage your energy as it is needed, when it is low, try the following:

📌 Do some exercises to help you with your focus and concentration (young lady or old lady?)
📌 Close all the unnecessary windows on your computer
📌 Get some fresh air and replenish your energy
📌 Do some breathing exercises to increase your stamina (like breath of fire)
📌 If you can, take a 15-minute nap

Going beyond your type, there are some universal recommendations that work for everyone, both morning and evening types:

📌Set meal and sleep times and try to stick to them
📌Breakdown your work into manageable tasks
📌Take regular breaks
📌Plan your breaks in advance

If you want to know what type you are, try taking any of the following assessments:

AutoMEQ: Automated Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (AutoMEQ)

Dr Michael Breus’ Chronotypes

 

What is Mindfulness and how it can help your business

What is Mindfulness and how it can help your business

“I define mindfulness as paying attention to our present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is. It is a deliberate application of attention. ”

-Diana Winston, The Little Book of Being

I’ve been asked about this topic a lot lately. Mainly because it is one of those things everybody talks about but not many truly understand.

Moreover: it can be confused with so many other things.

The fact is, that Mindfulness is a practice that definitely helps your business. A lot. Because it is based on information we already have about how our brain functions.

Neuroscience and psychology have worked closely together over the last 20 years, making discoveries that are reshaping the way we see the world, and ourselves.

So… I propose that we break the myth and explore the following together…what is mindfulness? What is not mindfulness? How do you practice it?

What will we be covering here?

What is mindfulness?

What it is not?

Which are its benefits?

How to practice it

Breathing

Attentive Observation

Self-Awareness Practice

Mindful Presence

What is it 👉

Mindfulness refers to the ability to be aware of yourself and be fully present with what is going on, in the actual moment. When you function as an impartial observer, you are a witness of the processes and experiences occurring in the “now”.

What it is not 👉

It is not praying; it is not meditation; it is not a religious or “new age” thing.

What are the benefits of practising?

📍 more connection with the present and self-control

📍 better communication (improving your active listening)

📍 ability to pause before a decision or action

📍 developing patience and openness

📍 more attention and concentration capacities

📍 increased efficiency and productivity

📍 stress reduction

Living in the present is something that is difficult to achieve; you constantly make mental references and comparisons to the past, and your hopes and dreams can place you in the future too much, a future of which you cannot be certain.

Rooting yourself, with the body and the mind, helps you fully experience the here and now, creating a space of calmness, focus and serenity.

Awareness of the present moment helps you to better cope with situations and emotions. 

Both can be a source of stress and anxiety.

How to practice it 👉

By using different techniques, including (but not exclusively) meditation, breathing exercises, body sensations and emotions, visual exercises to gain focus, word repetition, optical illusions etc.

Let’s check out some of these techniques in detail 👇

Breathing

Breath is a powerful way to connect with your whole body. It is a natural and automated function of your body, namely to bring in oxygen and flush out carbon dioxide.

Nasal breathing is important as it allows the coordination of the electrical brain signals in the olfactory cortex, which then coordinates the amygdala and the hippocampus, which are in charge of processing your emotions and memory.

Did you know that the discovery of the dominant nostril within Western civilization,

back in 1895, is owed to the German physician Richard Kayser?

Yoga and other ancient traditions have been working with this method for thousands of years.

Occident and Orient arrived at the same conclusion, just at different times.

Practice: You only need one minute, but of course the more time you practice, the better the results.
You can be sitting, lying or even standing, but try to feel comfortable.

Top tip: if you can, set aside a regular time to practice, ideally on a daily basis, beginning with a minute per day and increasing the time little by little.

🔶 Inhale deeply through your nose whilst counting to 4
🔶 Hold your breath and count to 4
🔶 Exhale through your nose whilst counting to 4

If you get distracted, gently come back to the exercise. Even if your mind wanders a thousand times, you can always return to the present moment and try again, inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4.

There are so many different breathing techniques and methods. If you lean towards the Yogic method, I highly recommend you pay a visit to Kia Miller and practice with her, even just for five minutes (to begin with).

Another option is the one that Diana Winston proposes here: Five-minute breathing. Also, you can try the Tummo meditation, which envolves also breathing and retention.


Attentive Observation

Learning to observe, as opposed to simply looking at or watching, helps you to be in the present moment and appreciate all the qualities of a certain object, person or situation.

This exercise takes just a minute, max. 2. and it is a simple and effective way to increase your awareness and relationship with the present moment.

🔶 To fully absorb the benefits of this, pick a random object, preferably in the natural environment
🔶 Be specific: if you pick a tree, look for a leaf that grabs your attention
🔶 Focus on its shape. What is it? Round or elongated? Does it have a distinctive colour? Is the colour uniform or does it have different tonalities to it?
🔶 Observe, as an impartial witness. Don’t judge or qualify (don’t think in terms of “pretty colours”). Just observe and mentally repeat “green” for example

Repeat daily, with different objects, and begin to notice how you feel both during the exercise and after it.


Self-Awareness Practice

We already spoke about this skill in my post Why is Self-awareness so important for better business. 

Doing the following exercise, you can regain control, simply by recognising your emotions at the precise moment they occur.

🔶 Pick two different moments in your day: one, when you are about to do something pleasant (let’s say you’re about to listen to some of your favourite music, after a long day of work). The other, when you’re about to do something that you have to do but you don’t enjoy (let’s say you have to write a letter of complaint)

🔶 Pay attention to the moment and all the emotions that arise from it: joy, tranquillity, pleasure, as well as the uncomfortable feelings: disdain, sadness. Make a mental note and stay with this feeling for as long as you can

🔶 Additionally, pay attention to how you manage your time with regard to that specific action: do you tend to procrastinate the unpleasant and overextend the pleasant moment?

🔶 Remember, no judgments, just observations. Stay with the moment

Mindful presence

This particular exercise is excellent if you find yourself worried about future events or dwelling on the past too often. It will help you gain sensibility, attentiveness and focus as well as helping you stop the fluctuation of your mind.

Therefore, it is an excellent method for reducing stress:

🔶 Pick a normal, daily action: turning on the computer, cleaning the house, shopping at the supermarket, commuting

🔶 Pay attention to each and every detail related to that action

🔶 Repeat the actions you perform, mentally: “I am going to put on my coat and open the door. I am closing the door now, and I can feel the wind in my face. It is cold. I am walking to my car. I get in the car and prepare myself to drive to the supermarket”

🔶 The more detail you can pick out, the better

This type of exercise helps enormously when you are trying to cope with anxiety, which usually manifests itself in form of impatience. Instead of focusing on the end result, concentrate instead on each specific part of the task.

Each part of a certain task is important in itself, and being mindful of each part leads to a better outcome and, without any doubt, to a more serene state of mind. This way, you can begin to enjoy the experience and open the door to creativity and emotion.

 —–

By now, you know that practising mindfulness can help you cope with anxiety and stress enormously, as well as help you improve your social and emotional intelligence quotients.

Why can Self-Management improve your business effectively?

Why can Self-Management improve your business effectively?

Because, for entrepreneurs and leaders alike,

Self-Management is the secret ingredient to success.

Moreover: self-management can be learnt and improved, like any other emotional skill.


In my last blog, we explored the basics of self-awareness
one of the key components of Emotional Intelligence.

Today we will dive into Self-Management and its competencies, trying to understand what they are and how we can implement better techniques and strategies to ensure they keep improving.

What will we be covering here?

What is Self-Management?

Emotional Self-Control

Self-Control: Top Tips

Adaptability

Adaptability: Top Tips

Achievement Drive

Achievement Drive Tips

Positive Outlook

Positive Outlook Top Tips

Self-Management

Let’s briefly talk about the 4 competencies under the Self-Management umbrella:

👉Emotional Self-Control

Once you have identified your emotion, the next step is to take control of it. If you can manage your emotions, you can remain calm and focused amid the most stressful situation and be of help to your co-workers and team in addition to yourself. Keeping disruptive emotions at bay is fundamental for anyone, especially for leaders.

👉Adaptability

This is the ability to be flexible and change the course of action according to the circumstances, without losing sight of the end goal. Learning how to develop this skill enables you to be flexible, without adding any stress. Life is unpredictable at the best of times, so uncertainty is expected and to be comfortable with it, is a great accomplishment.

👉Achievement Drive. Initiative and Innovation

This competence is key and entails striving towards goals whilst maintaining a standard of excellence, accepting the challenges you might encounter en route but, at the same time, improving performance and being ready to welcome opportunities. Being open to innovation is crucial in an era where everything around us changes at lightning speed.

👉Positive Outlook

The way you see the world changes your outlook of it. You can build your whole universe and turn each and every situation into an opportunity. The future always holds opportunities for improvement and positive outcomes.

Self-Management

 

So now, let’s dive in and explore how to improve each one of them!

EMOTIONAL SELF-CONTROL

“The goal is balance, not emotional suppression: every feeling has its value and significance”

Dr. Daniel Goleman – Emotional Intelligence

Dr. Goleman defines Emotional Self-Control as “the ability to manage disturbing emotions and remain effective, even in stressful situations”.

Emotional Balance (as you can also call it) speaks loudly and clearly about benefitting from the ability to manage your emotions after acknowledging their existence. Emotions can be intrusive and overwhelming.

As you may have seen previously, emotions can’t be denied nor suppressed and you cannot then avoid dealing with them. If you try to do this, you end up setting them free and this is when they take control of your body and mind.

This is why Self-awareness is so important: managing your emotions involves recognition and acceptance.

When you know what you feel, you can act accordingly. Better yet: you can learn to detect the triggers that, in certain situations, pave the way for certain reactions.

Self-control will give you the possibility to remain calm, in control and to think clearly, even in the most stressful situations.

 Self-Control Top Tips

The goal? To keep emotions in check. This will lead to well-being and success.

How can you improve it? Practice mindfulness: this will help develop your ability to pay attention without judging and help you identify what is going on without acting. Mindfulness also helps to improve observation and patience.

ADAPTABILITY 

Change is the magic door that leads to new opportunities, but the fear of the unknown can keep you paralysed. Adaptability is a key emotional competence and if you master it, uncertainty can be embraced with confidence.

The first thing to know about Adaptability is that it is the best competence to have for enabling your business to weather the storms. It allows you to not only embrace challenges but also take risks.

Being able to change perspectives means situations can be open to new developments.

What are the benefits of mastering this skill?

👉 You will feel comfortable with change

👉 You will also anticipate change and make the most of it

👉 You will be able to envision different scenarios and possibilities to attain your goals

👉 You won’t be afraid to take necessary risks

Adaptability Top Tips

The goal? Transforming the fear of the unknown into a world of NEW OPPORTUNITIES

How can you improve it? Get out of your comfort zone and pay attention to what happens. Begin with little things (change your favourite cafe, for example). Explore.

 Note: Leaders with this skill can remain focused in the middle of any storm and moreover, can be ready to receive uncertainty with open arms.

ACHIEVEMENT ORIENTATION

Enthusiasm and persistence in the face of setbacks have an undeniable payoff. Motivation is a powerful tool you can fuel on a daily basis, remembering your values and goals.

Achievement orientation is a skill that shows your capacity for permanent improvement. It generates new interests and gives you a reason for continued learning and expanding your horizons.

Do you have enough passion for what you do? This is the hidden driver that will lead you to excel in all that you do.

Setting high goals, working hard to achieve them and calculating the risks worth taking en route, is the perfect definition of Achievement Orientation.

Note: Leaders who have developed this skill are able to create an achievement culture within their organizations.

Achievement Orientation Top Tips

The goal? Learning to detect and feed your motivation. Being ready to adapt yourself and to explore and conquer new horizons.

How can you improve it? Take a piece of paper and make four columns. Complete each one with the following: what are my core motives? What goals have I set? What I am doing to achieve them? How can I make room for improvement?

 

 

POSITIVE OUTLOOK

In short, this skill is all about the ability to turn any situation into a positive outcome, identifying its new opportunities.

It entails the ability to see the “big picture” and also, to expect the best in the future. A Positive Outlook can be the difference between defeat and success because mastering this skill will allow you to identify multiple solutions and more easily overcome obstacles.

Positive Outlooks lead to

👉 better performance

👉 higher motivation

👉 creation of new opportunities

👉 empowerment

👉 greater loyalty

👉 outstanding customer service

Note: Leaders with this skill have the ability to see opportunities where nobody else can, and also have resilience, as they understand setbacks in a different way: not necessarily as obstacles but as positive challenges.

Positive Outlook Top Tips

The goal? Learning new ways to think and respond, and clearly identifying the goals that, in the end, will give you meaning and purpose. 

How can you improve it? Write in a journal. Once a week, write down in as much detail as possible, an important event or situation that troubled you. After explaining the facts – including how you responded to it –  imagine at least 2 other possible conclusions for that event. 

 

 

By now, you know that developing these skills will certainly help improve your social and emotional intelligence quotients.

 


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