Friday, November 7, 2014

Empathy- If you can't give it, FAKE IT!!!

EMPATHY: Can simply be defined as understanding what others are feeling because you have experienced it yourself or can put yourself in their shoes.

I don't know if I should call it a skill or an attribute or whatever, but I know people who eventually become great leaders have this quality in abundance, they empathize with others... they relate to people's suffering or pain and share in it, because they can relate based on personal experience, or just the ability to put themselves in the other person's shoes .  It is an ability to recognize the concerns other people have

 It allows us to create bonds of trust, it gives us insights into what others may be feeling or thinking; it helps us understand how or why others are reacting to situations.

I'll show you clearly what I mean with the following illustration:

When a friend calls you full of pain and hurt and disappointment over the latest disappointment in their life and you can visibly and audibly hear the pain in their words and you say something like: 

You:  Wow! na wa o...don't worry dear. You may have to just let that go. I feel your pains
Disappointed Friend: Thank you
You: You are welcome dear. I can imagine how you  feel pissed at the Naija system. It's very annoying
Disappointed Friend: I'm trying to process this shit, so I can excuse it, its so hard mehnnn. I had targets on when I wanted to get this done. I hate this
You: Naija! It is well. Sorry about this. Take it easy. Mehnnnn What will happen now?

Your side of the conversation above can be said to have been emphatizing with the person . You are relating to the pain the person is feeling. 

Now here is how the conversation can also go:

You: Pray about it, something can still happen
Disappointed Friend: It's no use... I've heard from both sides, nothing can be done
You; Wow! Don't worry it's not a waste of time. Just channel your energy into something else. 
Disappointed Friend: It's fine. Okay
You: Yea take a chill pill and suck it in
Disappointed Friend: Leave me alone
You: Can't do that, we are in this together. it's the situation we find ourselves in...if we can't do anything about it we look for other options. yes time is no friend to anyone...feeling bad and sulking won't change anything. Therefore we pick ourselves up and roll with plan B. It's life
Disappointed Friend: I know you mean well... but your words, this is not the time for it
You: Sorry, I don't know how to be soft, it's the reality. If you do this again in August, it doesn't make you less professional than the next person. Pick up the next plan on your list and move ahead. 

Your side of the conversation above cannot be said to have any iota of empathy or even sympathy... as a matter of fact you have just sounded very selfish and full of yourself, you've made the episode about yourself and your opinion! Because you see, there is a time and a season for everything, including your opinion!!!! Keep your opinions for a later time when the person is not so heartbroken or near tears or disappointed. Keep it for the next brain storming session you both have.

Your opinion is a good one no doubt...but you sound like an asshole when you don't know exactly when to shut the hell up!!! Don't dismiss their concerns offhand. Don't rush to give advice. Don't change the subject. Allow people their moment!!!

Phew! Can you relate?

Nutty Jay