Empathy is the key to great meetings – HBR

A good article that teases out the utility of empathy and emotional intelligence in meetings to tease out team dynamics.

It has a useful reminder that the emotions of the leader are contagious and they set the tone for the room telling us if we should we celebrate or go to fight or flight mode.

Where I’d like to read more is how to work with empathy as an inexact science.  We can never really know how people are feeling just through observation.  We can ask how people are feeling and why and we can get farther but limits remain depending on how good people are at articulating how they are feeling (I have been in workshops where they handed out lists of emotions to help people name them).

We are then also limited by trying to make a bridge between what is being expressed and our own life experiences to that we can be truly empathetic.   In my own work life, I can usually find a time that I have felt a similar emotion to what employees are expressing to get farther along the empathy continuum.  That said, even all of this works well, my first instinct will often be to offer how I might advance the situation given my own experience.   This may not be the most helpful use of empathy – maybe it is better to use this information with a certain discipline to create the space for employees to create their own way forward.

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