Maya Angelou said, “I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.”
Let us look at why that is. In the business world, research tells us that empathy is a trait of great leaders. Research shows that people with high levels of empathy build stronger relationships and are generally better able to deal with stress than their unempathetic counterparts. However, empathy is a term that still has connotations of being “too soft,” “too sensitive” or “too touchy-feely” in the workplace.
Having empathy does not mean that you walk around all day crying as you talk to each new person you run into. Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s experience, even if you have not had the same experience. It means being able to see people as their whole selves and actively trying to understand what they are thinking and feeling. It also means spending more time reflecting on our own biases, feelings, and judgements and exploring those to better understand ourselves and how we relate to others.