Strengths Coaching Blog

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Empathy: Seeing the World Through Others' Eyes - Theme Thursday Season 3

On this Theme Thursday Season Three webcast, Jim Collison, Gallup's Director of Talent Sourcing, and Maika Leibbrandt, Senior Workplace Consultant, talk about Empathy with Gallup's Josh Foster.





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You can sense the emotions of those around you. You can feel what they are feeling as though their feelings are your own. Intuitively, you are able to see the world through their eyes and share their perspective. You do not necessarily agree with each person’s perspective. You do not necessarily feel pity for each person’s predicament — this would be sympathy, not Empathy. You do not necessarily condone the choices each person makes, but you do understand. 

This instinctive ability to understand is powerful. You hear the unvoiced questions. You anticipate the need. Where others grapple for words, you seem to find the right words and the right tone. You help people find the right phrases to express their feelings — to themselves as well as to others. You help them give voice to their emotional life. For all these reasons, other people are drawn to you.

Empathy is the ability to not just read and ask great empathetic questions, or being curious about emotion. Empathy is the ability to understand the emotion in the moment. You hear the unvoiced questions and concerns. You can anticipate the needs of others. Often times where other people tend to reach for the right words, you find the right words, but you also find the right tone. People are drawn to you for these reasons. You can help give them a voice to how they are feeling. 

Empathy as a leader isn’t just sensing or feeling how other people feel, it is sensing this in reaction to their work, position and accomplishments. As a leader you can use Empathy to have a little bit more of a targeted understanding for what you are sensing. You can use the five clues to talent as a framework to really understand what the people you are leading are feeling. Ask yourself what brings other people flow, satisfaction and yearning. Pay attention to what really lights others up. Pay attention to when they are doing better work because they are feeling more emotionally connected. Ask yourself how you can create great development and collaboration that is going to lead you to fantastic performance. 

To improve on this talent aim that emotional radar towards where there is the most ease, excellence and enjoyment for the individuals you lead. You can look for where the most powerful partnerships may be. You can see where there is the most efficiency. Use that to then set up the conversation. That ability to sense can really just give you a jump start on creating an emotional connection. 

Ask yourself when does your emotional antennae gets the best signal. Is it when you are with people you know really well? Is it when you are following a clear goal? What do you need in order to make sense of what you are picking up? Do you need to write it down? Do you need to discuss it with those you really trust? Find these nuances you need to really make your talent thrive. 

If you want to build trust through Empathy practice reflection. Practice reflecting back to people what it is you are picking up. You can’t expect everybody else to be picking up on your emotions, just because you are picking up on theirs. A leader can build compassion by having presence, and showing up for those who need them most urgently. A leader might build stability by working emotional understanding into your agenda as a habit. Finally, you might inspire hope through Empathy by injecting feeling into goals for the future.  

How do you feel about the Empathy theme in a leadership role? Share your thoughts and experiences on the Called to Coach Facebook page.

Pressed for time? We now have all of our Theme Thursday videos in short, easy-to-digest snippets and other Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches break down the nuances of each theme.





Josh Foster is a Data Services manager within Gallup.  He is responsible for leading and developing the PreData Survey Design, Sample Management, and OrgMap teams throughout Gallup.  He has been at Gallup for nearly a decade and is an expert in all aspects of Gallup’s operations.  In addition to his role as a manager, he is a member of the Excellence Committee, Learning Leaders Team, and the Data Security Infrastructure Team here all at Gallup.


Josh's top 5 strengths are: Includer | Developer | Positivity | WOO | Empathy.

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