How to be present when others are losing it

Do you struggle to know how to be present with someone when they are upset or angry, or when you are tired or going through it yourself? I’m very often struck by how people can lack the ability to “be with” people emotionally, especially those who work professionally with people in challenging situations. It’s like our buttons get pushed or we feel inadequate or lack the resources we need. Somehow, people say, they “aren’t qualified” to handle it. When people kick off I remember once on a Gestalt training course unpacking a whole load of grief around the impact of … Read more

Do you relate well to others?

Do you relate well to others personally and at work? Do you inspire, lead and motivate them well, or do you struggle in the “people” aspect of your job? It’s common for people to minimise this part but it’s crucial to things going well. Business leaders have finally woken up to the fact that “soft skills” make a big difference to the bottom line, after years in which people have denied its importance and minimised the value of such training and coaching. Many in the Learning and Development industry will of course be thinking “told you so”, but it must … Read more

Are we losing our ability to have empathy and to connect?

We must have all done it, a family gathering at Christmas and at a quiet moment you come into the room and everybody is on their phones or tablets, with snippets of conversation in between. Perfectly normal, you might think: everybody is wishing friends a Happy Christmas. Except that that is what occurs a lot right through the year where people are together or alone. This world is now getting brilliantly connected. Yet do we notice any disconnect with others we’re with? Being a big user myself but also a coach of relationship and interpersonal dynamics, I’m frequently observing what … Read more

Do you not relate well to others?

Do you find that in some area of your life you lack the ability to relate well to others? You’d not be alone, since our ability or inability to connect with others is something that is the cause of much heartache and conflict in our society and in organisations. For some it is about avoiding making effective connections and for others it is where they overdo it and cause harm. Some people are for example reserved or non-assertive while others can be aggressive. A key underlying issue can be due to a lack of emotional intelligence, our self-awareness, how we … Read more

Being mindful of our perceptions helps us to understand others better

Interesting that a woman’s selfie showing her against the background of a man on Brooklyn Bridge being persuaded not to take his own life has attracted notoriety on the net. It’s a good example of the assumptions we can make of people’s behaviour. To many, this is the ultimate in selfish “me first” behaviour, where people see more interested in themselves and how others see them than concern for what might be happening to others. Some take it further to present this incident as about a disconnectedness within, where people don’t feel others’ pain and indeed can find humour in … Read more

Lack of empathy and social awareness can be very damaging

Earlier this week I posted on the levels of social awareness and concern forĀ  others and the lack of empathy. I argued that it is possible to develop this Emotional Intelligence (EI) attribute in people. Yesterday I was sent a link to an HBR article which supports this view, with research evidence. As the writer argues, you can improve your EI, with the right coaching supported by feedback from others. This is as relevant at work as in life in general. We might think we are a particular person with a particular style but we may be very unaware of … Read more

Where being there for others can be a blind spot

In the individualism of much of western and westernising society we can get ourselves into all sorts of knots about our attitude towards the wellbeing of others. In an age when community is in retreat in the mega-cities of today, it can seem as if it is “every man for himself”, “me first”. Yet by contrast we expect a lot of others: witness the current expectation for getting good customer service. However it can be less easy for us to think of others and to put ourselves out for them. And when we do, do we do this our of … Read more

Feeling empathy needs not to cloud your judgement

In the emotional stakes it is good to see empathy now playing a big part and yet there are cautionary points to be made. Just because you empathise with someone doesn’t mean you do what they want, but it can play a powerful part in building bonds and connections and in influence. In the last US Presidential election Obama was able to make great play of his opponent’s perceived lack of empathy. For example he was able to portray Romney as uncaring with regard to the alleged 47% of the population who he said was government-dependent. Thus whether you are … Read more

Empathy brings you closer to others and them to you

I often find that the big blind spot in someone’s development is their lack of empathy. It can show up in various ways, like the lack of sensitivity to what is happening for another, the inability to make authentic emotional responses when someone is speaking of a personal concerns, the inability to pick up on another’s perspective or even simply to assume that other people think and feel as they do. I was very struck by it very recently in observing someone listening to another as she shared what had being going on for her. The woman went through the … Read more

Where empathy can be sorely lacking

It can beggar belief, but it happens. Recently a crowd watched as a young man stood for two hours on top of a building about to jump as police reasoned with him to not do it. Many apparently called out for him to jump, filmed it when he finally did and posted it on the internet. Before we get too self-righteous, you might like to pause and ask yourself how often you’ve ever so slightly slowed down on the motorway to look at a serious accident, rubber-necking as it is called. It might be hard to understand, but there’s a … Read more