In any meaningful conversation, where what’s said and what’s heard is equally important on all sides, the truth is rarely heard simply as stated. Usually, there’s what someone says and then there’s what someone hears. It’s a miracle that we don’t miscommunicate more.
In all honesty, language and conversation is something we take for granted. But in these turbulent, divisive and also promising times, communication is of vital importance. Those who can engage someone empathetically, showing an ability to understand and share the feelings of another, can create bridges that sow divides and create thriving communities.
But you have to care.
You have to believe in something bigger than yourself or any one person or thing.
The vision and meaning of togetherness must carry greater purpose and prominence collectively…for all.
The difference between utterance and discernment, after all these centuries of communicating with one another, still leaves much to be desired. Dialogue is so much more complicated than speaking and listening. The distance between the two is separated by an incredible array of everyday obstructions: cognitive biases, experiences, emotions, and self-centeredness on every side.
The art and science of language and communication are just that…art and science. Expression and significance are often left to the senses of the beholder, regardless of intent.
Let’s appreciate that the coalescence of thoughts, ideas, and purpose create a complex stream that’s truly unique to each person. Someone has to take the first step. Someone has to see the bigger picture. Someone has to understand the other…first.
Regardless of what is or what should be and why, most times, other people aren’t going to take the first step. But that’s the true opportunity for empathetic leadership.
Don’t just try to get closer.
Don’t just listen.
Don’t just repeat what you head back to someone.
Don’t just feel sorry for someone…that’s sympathy, not empathy.
Empathetic leadership is just that…leading the way by taking steps toward someone and somewhere else. Become a bridgebuilder.
Listen and commit your undivided attention to the conversation.
Refrain from judgment and assumptions.
Consider different perspectives and angles.
Seek common ground.
Acknowledge another’s feelings and show emotional support (EQ=emotional intelligence)
Relate – show care and concern.
Mirror someone’s form of communication and nonverbal signals.
Empathetic leadership is a skill and a competitive advantage. In a world seemingly rife with divisiveness, fear, and confusion, this is exactly what the world needs more of right now…engagement, harmony, and community.