Imagine two circles: self & other.
Not empathizing is them separated,
Empathizing is them intersecting,
Hyper-empathizing is them overlapping.
When we hyper-empathize,
we lose any boundary or distinctions between self vs other, and
our sense of identity becomes significantly affected.
A mother throwing herself in front of oncoming traffic
to save her child
A business owner who feels like a failure
because her company has failed,
and kills herself,
It’s important we learn the ability
to notice when hyper-empathizing works against us, so as
to choose another way of being.
Let us not unwillingly fall prey
to the whims of others.
“What has happened since our last session?” I asked.
He’d been feeling bad for his employees.
He felt like he was failing them.
With guilt on deck,
underperforming employees fueled his resentment.
He was spending so much time and effort trying to be a better leader,
being understanding and supportive of them.
They, on the other hand, were not.
“I confessed my guilt to my employees.”
“What do you feel right now?”
“What did you learn?”
“That all this time I was hyper-empathizing instead of empathizing.
That to empathize,
it’s not enough to understand.
I also have to be honest with myself and others.”
Empathizing is not merely about others.
It’s about the relationship between ourselves and others.
Let us not forget ourselves.
If someone’s life
all it means
is we don’t know them
Some of you replied to my last email asking how micro-managing can be good.
I’ll answer in a roundabout way.
My clients aspire to do good as leaders.
Good to employees, customers,…
It’s like wanting to be good parents.
Who can argue with that?
The irony is that trying to do good has not made an impact or made things worse.
This is one reason why realizing empathy is so critical.
We have an image of what “good” looks like.
But that’s what we think.
Doesn’t mean others will also appreciate the image as “good.”
I owe one of my most amazing growth experience to being micro-managed.
To be empathic is to be context-sensitive.
Our “good(s)” are unappreciated? We’ve misunderstood the context.