How to be a star performer: Enhancing your emotional intelligence with empathy

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Welcome back to our series of posts examining the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in personal branding and how it contributes to becoming a star performer. Recent posts offer strategies to help you develop the various components of EQ, such as self-awareness, self-regulation and motivation. We now turn to the very important component of empathy.

control-emotions-therapyBasically, empathy is the ability to recognize how people feel (even when it’s not obvious) and understand their wants, needs and viewpoints. I like to think of this component of EQ as a type of receptor. If the receptor isn’t activated, we are left without the ability to read the signals of others and react appropriately to them. Individuals with high EQ therefore are really good at “picking up signals” and anticipating and recognizing the needs of those around them. These skills are often used to develop and lead others. Moreover, empathy helps others connect with you, and earns you the respect and loyalty. It helps others feel listened to, understood, respected and supported.

Here are some top tips to help you develop this important component:

  • Step into someone else’s shoes – This involves taking a good look at the situation from the other person’s perspective. Make an active effort to better understand that person’s thoughts and actions. This can be especially challenging when you feel negatively about the person, so you will need to try even harder and step outside the negativity to see things from their position (which can also help diffuse anger) and adopt a more compassionate view of them. Practice nonjudgmentally noticing the behaviours and words of others.
  • Practice active listening – Most people focus more on speaking than they do listening. Shifting focus to what others are saying allows you to learn more and make a stronger connection with that person. Make sure you are actively paying attention, without looking elsewhere (and especially at your mobile phone!), keep track of points of agreement and disagreement, and catch your mind when it wanders and redirect your attention to the speaker. Let the speaker know you are listening by asking questions, making direct eye contact and turning toward them in a way that shows you’re open and interested. Make them feel like they are the most important person in that moment.
  • Notice nonverbal signals – Body language can speak volumes about how you truly feel. What messages are you sending others (e.g., crossed arms, fidgeting, looking down)? What signals can you notice in others? By noticing nonverbal cues, you can better gauge how someone really feels in a situation, giving you a better opportunity to respond appropriately.
  • Validate others – Be responsive to the feelings of others. If you notice disappointment in the sound of someone’s voice in response to your request, acknowledge it and let them know how much you appreciate them doing the work, even though it may not be something they are keen on.

Our next post will provide you with tips on developing the final component of EQ – social skills.

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