Empathy is one of the most overlooked skills in the workplace. Yet it is key for navigating in this complex world. This article explores why empaths are not able to cultivate this superpower at work and how you can tap into your empathic potential to create meaning and fulfilment at work.
How do you know if you are an empath?
Empaths are highly sensitive individuals. They have the ability to sense what people around them are thinking and feeling. You enter a room and you can “sense” the atmosphere, mood, if there is tension or harmony. Most empaths are more on the scale of introversion. This means your energy comes from within, from spending time with yourself, being in silence, being in nature. Thinking before speaking. As an empath you experience the world through your intuition. You have an extremely good inner compass or gut feeling. You also have highly tuned senses and thus can be super sensitive to noise, smell or visual overstimulation.
I recommend this quiz from Anita Moorjani if you want to know how empathic you are. It was an eye-opener for me - click here to access it.
Empathy is one of the most underrated skill in our workplaces
Empathy is always on the top of the list for the most needed leadership traits. The corporate clients I work with, new and seasoned managers, are eager to learn how to be more empathetic. They want to connect with people and build trust in my development programs. When I teach about how to build emotional intelligence, I see so many light bulbs go on. A few years ago, research at Google showed that the most important factor for high performance teams is how team members care about each other and create psychological safety.
Empathy fuels connection with others, because you really feel with people. You listen deeply, you are present. Who does not want to be seen and listened to? Empathy allows us to influence, inspire, and help people grow and realise their goals.
Somehow in the busy - ness of corporate life, empathy often ends up as a nice-to have soft skill. “Soft does not deliver results.” It is easy to forget that it's people who drive a business, who cannot be programmed like a robot to perform.
The challenges of empaths in a “normal” workplace
Others wish and train hard to be more empathetic. Yet, I see many of my coaching clients who are a “natural” empaths underestimating this superpower. This is because of what is perceived valuable in some business environments.
Empaths are struggling with trying to fit into the nine to five system. Why? The business world is not designed for introversion, deep thinking, space for yourself. A lot of time you are constantly bombarded with noise, emails and (online)meetings. It’s more challenging to go deep and to be present.
I remember feeling exhausted at the end of a normal office day, because many people would speak to me about their worries and issues. As an empath I am a good listener, I am interested in people’s stories and compassionate towards their struggles. If you are surrounded by many energy vampires, negative people where the glass is always half empty, you have an issue as an empath. You absorb other people’s emotions. You cannot easily differentiate between what is yours and what are other people’s emotions, which do not belong to you.
Many of my highly empathetic clients are exhausted. They always go the extra mile to make sure their colleagues and clients are happy and forget taking care of themselves.
How to use your empathy for more fulfilment at work
Here I am going to share my personal experiences on how to tap more into your empathetic potential and create more fulfilment at work.
Create a work-life with meaning: As an empath you are very service-oriented. Helping people brings you great joy. You are longing for a meaningful career, you want to make a difference for the people you work for, for your family, friends and the environment. Take time to reconnect with your personal North star and how you live your values in your profession.
Make time for learning: You are interested in personal growth, development, learning. You not only want to improve yourself, but you have a deep interest in evolving humanity as well and helping humankind to evolve. Make sure you have enough time to read, connect with inspiring people, mentors or coaches.
Own your time schedule: Create powerful routines in your daily work which allow you to connect with yourself and be in silence. Build your workday so you have space to breathe, where you have freedom to do your own thing in your own time. Take breaks.
Make self-care a priority in your life: You being depleted or burned out doesn’t serve anyone. Make a list of things which fill your energy bucket and bring you joy. Do these things every day. Tap into your exceptional creativity. Incorporate writing, painting, singing, dancing, etc. on a regular basis.
Be selective with the people you spend time with: Own your energy. Don’t give your heart and attention to every energy vampire who wants to dump his/her issues on you. Listen to your gut feeling and limit draining/toxic interactions as much as possible. Fire a client who takes advantage of you, cut a colleague who uses you as a garbage can and limit meetings which drain you.
Tap into your empathic potential
Being an empath is not always easy. But, if you tap into the fountain of possibilities that it can give you and your career, it can transform your life and working environment for the better. “Traditional” workplaces may drain you and make you feel stuck. Find a career and a place where you can be your true self and foster meaningful connections. This will allow you to fulfil your potential, make a positive difference in the world and help people around you.
Yet, you can’t do any of this if you don’t look inwards first. Only if you prioritize self-care, become aware of who you are and allow yourself to strengthen your intuitive abilities, empathy really becomes the secret weapon that will help you feel fulfilled in all the aspects of your life, including your career.
If you are struggling to make the most out of your empathic abilities at work, I strongly recommend signing up to my fortnightly Purposeful Growth Letter. I have years of experience working with people like you and aim to help you grow and life your purpose in your work-life. You’ll receive updates about new blog articles like this one, and you’ll be the first to know when I launch new programs and tools. Click here to sign up.
How do you use your empathy to create meaning and fulfilment at work? Let me know in the comments below.
Anita Moorjani: Sensitive Is the New Strong: The Power of Empaths in an Increasingly Harsh World, 2021