Empathy and the power to improve mutual understanding and trust

Successful public speaking, like any form of communication, relies on the speaker understanding the audience. Have you ever heard a speaker deliver and talk and you felt disengaged from the content. Great public speakers have empathy for others. They feel what others feel and understand their needs and wants and therefore they can speak the words that will connect with the audience.

At its core empathy empowers us to understand other people. Whether those people are our friends, family, colleagues or clients, empathy helps us to connect with them and understand what they need. And when we understand exactly what they need, we can create a connection that increases satisfaction and engagement. Greater Empathy builds to greater success and it has the power to transform the way we think, work and lead.

The opposite of empathy is assumption. Assuming we know what somebody needs.

From the Royal Society of Arts “espresso shots for the mind.” This following clip features Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, providing some quick insights into the difference between sympathy and empathy, and explaining why empathy is much more meaningful.

A recent lecture from Roman Krznaric, provided the most illuminating example of empathy from his children, boy-girl twins. At the age of around 18 months, if his son was crying, the sister would often try to comfort him by giving him her favourite toy dog. A kindly gesture, but not much use. Fast forward a year and when his son was in tears, his sister handed him his favourite toy cat. It worked because she was now able to escape her own viewpoint and understand what mattered from her brother’s perspective.

In his book, Empathy: Why It Matters, And How To Get It, he identifies 6 habits to become highly empathic:

Habit 1: Cultivate curiosity about strangers
Habit 2: Challenge prejudices and discover commonalities
Habit 3: Try another person’s life
Habit 4: Listen hard—and open up
Habit 5: Inspire mass action and social change
Habit 6: Develop an ambitious imagination

Take a look and see what you could add in your day to day life to build this critical life skill.




Ga Lok Chung