Strengths Coaching Blog

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mastery Monday: Understanding Empathy

By Albert L. Winseman, D.Min


People with Empathy in their Top Five have an uncanny ability to physically feel the emotions of others. When those around them are sad, they feel the sadness. When those around them are joyful, they experience their joy. They intuitively pick up on the non-verbal, subtle emotional cues that others give out. To paraphrase Marvel super-hero Spiderman, their “spidey sense is tingling” whenever they start sensing they are experiencing the feelings of others. Individuals strong in Empathy talents bring emotional intelligence to a team, and as they are emotional people, they need the freedom to cry, laugh, and vent. People with high Empathy often can tell you how you are feeling even before you yourself know – and their description is eerily accurate.

In this installment of Compare and Contrast, I examine the differences and similarities between Empathy and Includer, Harmony, and Individualization. All four have the common element of being relationship building themes, and the similarities are such that Includer, Harmony, and Individualization can each look like Empathy – depending on the situation.


Empathy and Includer

Empathy has a strong awareness of the emotions of others, while Includer has a strong awareness of those who are left out. Includer wants to draw the circle wider, and Empathy wants to understand the feelings of those who are in the circle. Those with Includer in their Top Five want to make others feel accepted and welcomed; those with Empathy in their Top Five want to make others feel understood. Individuals with strong Includer talents know how it feels to be left out, so want to ensure that others never feel excluded. Individuals with strong Empathy talents know how it feels to have one’s feelings discounted, so want to ensure that others never feel emotionally diminished.

Empathy and Harmony

Harmony can look a lot like Empathy, in that Harmony doesn’t like the emotional tension of discord – and will take steps to smooth things over and make sure everyone feels okay. Harmony wants everyone to get along; Empathy wants everyone to feel emotionally understood. Both Empathy and Harmony tend to focus on emotions. Those with Empathy in their Top Five tend to be keenly aware of the emotions of others; those with Harmony in their Top Five tend to be especially gifted at managing emotional volatility and variability. Harmony helps others work together, while Empathy helps elevate the awareness of the emotions of others. Harmony considers many viewpoints; Empathy senses many emotions.

Empathy and Individualization


Empathy and Individualization are both very intuitive themes. But the intuition about others is subtly different.  Empathy intuitively knows how someone feels; Individualization intuitively knows who someone is. Those with strong in Empathy talents have a gift for sensing other people’s feelings; those with strong Individualization talents have a gift for figuring out what make each person tick. Individuals high in Individualization are fascinated by human uniqueness, and those high in Empathy are fascinated by human emotion.

Be sure to catch up on Season One and Season Two of Theme Thursday-Empathy to learn more!

Albert L. Winseman, D.Min., is a Senior Learning and Development Consultant at Gallup. Al brings deep expertise in employee and customer engagement, executive leadership and organizational dynamics to his consulting work with Gallup’s clients. He consults with senior leaders, executives and front-line managers to improve employee and customer engagement and to implement strategic initiatives that drive business growth.



Al's top 5 strengths are: Ideation | Futuristic | Maximizer | Strategic | Command

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