skip to main content

Empathy, show notes, episode 8

Episode 8 on Empathy with David and Kim

Join David and Kim for a thirty minute conversation on Empathy. Empathy is the second competency in the Interpersonal composite. This is the eighth broadcast in our fifteen part series on EI. We’re working our way through the fifteen dimension of the MHS model of EI.

Here are some notes and links from the show. Please join us in two weeks on Friday, November 6th at 9:30AM Pacific, for our next broadcast on Social Responsibility. Need a reminder? You can subscribe to our EQ and You reminders.


Empathy is feeling with people. It’s the capacity to be aware of and to understand and to appreciate the feelings of others.

About mirror neurons

Recognizing and understanding the states of mind of others: theory of mind
Brené Brown on Empathy, video

“The Relationship Between Emotional-Social Intelligence and Leadership Practices among College Student Leaders”, dissertation by Bryan Jeremy Cavins, 2005, PDF

The Empathy Exams, a collection of essays by Leslie Jamison

“The Relationship Between Transformational Leadership Practices and Global Social Responsibility,” Journal of Leadership Studies, Timothy Ewest


Partial Show notes

0:00 Introduction by David, from the ICF conference in Calgary.
4:30 Empathy is a powerful competency. Creating the space, and directing our attention and focussing our attention on others gives people the opportunity to feel heard, and to feel valued…
5:45 Kim: Yeah, there’s a depth of understanding that can be conveyed… our ability to relate can drive empathy… empathy is not solving people’s problems…
7:00 David: It’s part of our nature to connect as human beings…
8:20 Kim: Empathy is a kind of immersion… empathy is about getting curious… empathy is not me pounding my point; it’s me understanding, whether I agree or not…
9:20 David: One of the primary circuits in our brain physiology is about deciding whether we should approach or avoid a given situation… there’s discomfort and pain in approaching situations sometimes…

10:30 Kim: Meaningful dialogue, especially where there’s conflict, requires empathy…
11:30 David: Curiousity and empathy are very related… empathy on teams is life-giving… what’s underneath empathy is care and compassion…
12:10 Kim: [Laughs] And it can’t be faked!
13:10 Kim: A recent example in our working life was in our training that we contributed at the University of Alberta… as we learned more about the complexity of leadership roles in postsecondary, we were able to think about how best to deliver our training…
15:00 David: There’s a social pressure not to talk about problems and challenges and feelings that can get in the way of empathy… in the case of academic leaders, they are researchers, writers, teachers, managers, and sometimes the have clinical responsibilities and each one of these can be a full time responsibility… training needs to be attuned to these pressures…
16:45 Kim: Any time people are being empathic with me, it’s so valuable to me… and it deepens our relationship… empathy is about sharing and sharing impact… empathy is being present…
18:00 David: And practicing empathy, is an essential ingredient in trust. It breathes life into teams… it’s essential to family just as much as it is for business…
20:00 Kim: Empathy and emotional expression are flip sides and both involve risk…
22:00 David: … it can seem risky, because we don’t want to be seen as weak, and we have discomfort with vulnerability…
24:00 Kim: And we so often have to manage our impulse, our drive, our instinct to solve someone’s problem. When we see someone in distress, we’re driven to fix it – to solve it. But this gets in the way of empathy… empathy is not blurting out solutions.
26:00 David: A response to someone’s distress requires honesty. “It will be alright” is often the wrong way to go. Better to go with “there’s no words” … we often say things that get in the way of connection…
29: Kim: Yes, and it’s important to practice self-correcting… when we say something that shuts down connection, just say “oh, heck, that was a stupid thing to say” or “oh man, that was insensitive…” It’s common to say the wrong thing, so let’s practice noticing and acknowledging and correcting those situations… moments that call for empathy are opportunities, not threats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Know. Engage. Lead.

We provide training, assessment and coaching for managers and leaders who want to improve team functioning, work effectiveness and profits.

Get training