We often hear that empathy is a vital skill, the foundation of effective and compassionate leadership. But what does that really mean?
Empathy is an abstract concept, and it’s not easy to put into practice if you’re not familiar with it.
So, how can leaders like you show empathy in a way that resonates with your teams? The answer starts with the words you choose.
Here are some phrases that you can use with your team to show empathy:
"It sounds like you’re worried about the upcoming presentation/meeting. Is that how you’re feeling?"
It shows understanding by acknowledging their feelings and opening the door for them to share more. They will feel understood, making them more likely to share their concerns openly.
"I'm here for you" (with intention)
It reassures your team members that you genuinely support them and are ready to assist whenever they need it. They will feel a strong sense of support and trust.
"How are you feeling about this?"
It encourages open dialogue about their emotions, showing your interest in their well-being. This will appreciate your genuine interest and feel better.
"I can see why you might feel that way."
It validates their perspective, even if you don't fully agree, fostering empathy and understanding. They will feel validated, respected, and open to communication.
"What can I do to support you?"
Offer your help and resources, showing that you're willing to take action to assist them. Employees will feel empowered and valued, knowing you are committed to helping them succeed.
"I appreciate your hard work."
It acknowledges and celebrates their efforts, boosting morale, motivation and a sense of accomplishment.
"Let's find a solution together."
It promotes collaboration and teamwork in addressing challenges rather than imposing solutions. It will enhance their problem-solving skills and promote a sense of ownership in decisions.
"I've been there before, and it's tough."
Share your own experiences to empathise with their struggles and offer relatability. They will feel connected to you and will trust you more.
"Take the time you need."
It respects their well-being and emphasises the importance of self-care and balance. They will experience reduced stress and burnout.
Remember, these words are meaningful when they come from a genuine place and are followed by actions. Sincerity is key to building trust and credibility.
Use words and gestures to show you care — a warm smile, a reassuring nod, or even a supportive touch (if appropriate). Always, ask if there's anything you can do to assist.
Don’t offer advice, judge them, or tell them they shouldn’t be feeling what they’re feeling. You don’t have to agree or fully understand their situation to show empathy. Offer advice only if they ask for it.
Most importantly, listen actively. Use open-ended questions that encourage meaningful conversation, just like the examples shared above, and respond without judging. Make a genuine effort to master empathetic leadership - the art of choosing words and actions thoughtfully.
Would you like to become a more empathetic leader?
Get in touch today, join my 1-to-1 coaching program and become the leader you always wanted to be. My support will empower you to create a thriving work environment where everyone can excel.