Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Practical Empathy

Next week, I have two days packed with meetings. I will be sitting across coffee tables and boardroom tables having lengthy - sometimes heady - discussions.

How do I demonstrate empathy during these conversations in a genuine, non-condescending way?

It is important to remember three things:

Listen well

Listen to understand. Use first names. Turn off all devices and take notes on pen and paper. Ask great, open-ended questions. And, perhaps most importantly, be okay with the complexity of people.

Use encouraging and hopeful language

Sometimes people need to know they're appreciated. Sometimes people need to know it's okay they don't have it all together. Sometimes people need to know their grumpiness is understood. Sometimes people need to know that what they do matters. I'll be looking for ways to speak hope and encouragement.

Be completely self-aware, and keep ego at bay.

There's never a need to impress anyone. There's only the need to do impressive work.

I'm finding this a helpful checklist to run through my head before meeting anyone - whether it's my wife or a friend or a client.

It's the practical application of empathy.