Increasing Empathy Skills in Conversation

Ever had that conversation that didn’t go as planned? Okay. That’s an easy question.

Ever had that conversation where there was an underlying tension? The words were nice and correct, but the tension was present and unspoken.

That is when empathy skills are needed.

Empathy skills are techniques that pull out the underlying tension, and a proper win-win can be negotiated.

Next time a team or a teacher comes to your office with underlying tension, explore this technique to communicate with empathy:

  1. Listen closely and then label the underlying emotion by saying something like, “You seem to feel/think…”
  2. If you mislabel, ask for clarity, and try again.
  3. After the other party states the equivalent of “that’s right” you can lead with questions to move toward a solution.

Only after getting to “that’s right” can you truly move together toward a solution.

Always seek “that’s right” instead of “you’re right”. When the other party says, “You’re right” they’ve given up. Either they’re politely dismissing your ideas or outright lying to you, so you’ll shut up.

Increasing empathy skills in conversation is a sure way to forge relationships that move forward together.

Trying to convince someone that you’re right is a sure way to lose leadership influence.