The ability to understand what the other is going through helps in all the segments of our waking life and livelihood like management, sales, marriage and parenthood. Strengthening this aspect of my emotional intelligence would really mean that I have already taken care of the earlier three aspects of emotional intelligence. Goleman opines that empathy builds on self-awareness. People who cannot read their own emotions are alexithymic, they are confused and bewildered about their own and other peoples' feelings.
I suspect that I am a bit of an alexithymic myself. Once during my adolescence my house was flooded, I remember that I did not react at all and continued doing whatever I was doing instead of panicking and controlling the situation. At that time I thought I was rather cool, but now I realize that I was too detached and cold (not cool as I had earlier thought). Had I been empathetic I would have perhaps cried yet swung into action for either throwing out the water or stemming the source.
This cold trait has surfaced time and again in my dealing with my business employees as well. I am not able to comprehend when they drop work due to personal emergency. It seems to me that work has less priority in their life than their domestic troubles. I am able to now understand why my subordinates find it difficult to confide in me, why I am usually am the last to know about the problems brewing in the environment. Root cause of this shortcoming is that I need to have empathy towards others.
The plan is to improve my cognitive skills which will include:
Set a role model. There are a number of people I know who are naturally empathetic towards others. I will have an inner voice mapping my emotions or lack of them against those of the role models. It would be easy to emulate them initially whenever I feel emotionally blank.
Self-motivation- I will reinforce my behavior by constantly conducting an inner conversation with myself, to help me manage challenges or difficult situations.
Learning social cues - I will try to see my self as part of a larger social fabric and try to react to situations from community's point of view. Recognize facial expressions, tone of voice and gestures and anticipate other person's state of mind.
Others too- Try to understand from others perspective too and see if my state of mind is broad enough to take a just decision or too narrow that I am considering only myself in the outcome.
Listen sympathetically - Not to interrupt or contradict till the speaker has finished and his /her message is understood completely. Maintain eye contact, gesture warmly and keep relaxed at all times.
The key to know if my plan has worked is the enhancement of following traits in my personality:
More responsible and assertive without being abusive
More popular and dynamic
Enjoy meeting others and help in solving their problems
Greater understanding of others perspective and being more concerned
Better at resolving conflicts, rather than being the cause of conflicts.
Subordinates become friendlier and confide in me.
The basic competency needed to develop empathy is self awareness. It means that I have to have the ability to recognize my own feelings. I have to be open and clear about my emotional reactions to different situations.
I have to be motivated to develop empa