This Isn't Empathy

This Isn't Empathy


Teachable Moment: Avoid owning the emotions of your employees and focus on healthy practices that promote autonomy.

The Problem

Empathizing with your employees can be a challenge - especially when the conversations are difficult.

You might not be comfortable expressing your emotions or know how to respond in the moment.

Both situations are valid and can be easily overcome with time and experience.

But what you want to avoid as much as possible is taking responsibility for your employees’ feelings.

This can be emotionally draining and make you feel that you have to constantly fix any negative emotions that arise.

Not to mention that taking ownership undermines their autonomy and forces them to rely on you to regulate their emotions.

So, what do you do?

The Solution

Being an empathetic and supportive manager doesn’t mean taking on the responsibility for other people’s emotions - it means understanding them and providing help where possible.

Consider the following:

1. Encourage open communication. Create an environment where team members feel comfortable expressing their emotions and concerns. This will help identify and address issues before they escalate and provide an opportunity to show empathy and understanding.

2. Validate your employee’s feelings. You can acknowledge and validate their feelings without taking responsibility for them. Avoid dismissing team members’ feelings; instead, listen attentively and acknowledge their feelings while not getting emotionally involved.

3. Encourage personal responsibility. Encourage team members to take personal responsibility for their emotions and actions. This can include setting goals, tracking progress, and providing feedback. This will empower them and help them develop independence, resilience, and emotional intelligence.

4. Provide positive feedback. Provide feedback and recognition for team members who take responsibility for their emotions and actions. This will motivate them to continue taking responsibility for their emotions and actions.

It can be tempting to take on the burden of others, as it can give the illusion of connection.

But remember, you can still show empathy while promoting healthy workplace boundaries.