Why Having Empathy is Nonnegotiable

B. Pagels-Minor
4 min readJul 7, 2021
Photo by Zuzana Ruttkay on Unsplash

What comes to mind when you think of empathy?

For me, empathy is all about removing barriers to understand where someone else is coming from (even if I don’t always agree with them) by choosing to see THEIR feelings, thoughts, and experiences from THEIR perspective versus my own. Similarly, it’s also being understood on the same level by my colleagues, friends, and family members.

Of course, to fully understand and appreciate the role empathy can play in your life, you need to clearly understand what it is (and isn’t), why it’s so important, and how you can make it a part of your day to day life.

So, what is empathy?

Mariam Webster defines empathy as the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences in either the past or present without having the feelings, ideas, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

Unlike sympathy, which often means feeling sorry or bad for someone else’s suffering, empathy requires you to feel and share someone else’s feelings without making it about you. Or in the words of Brené Brown, “it means to be able to see the world as others see it.”

But why is being more empathetic even more important today than before?

Let’s face it; so much has changed in the past year and a half. Within a short period, millions of people had to deal with an overwhelming amount of change. From losing loved ones and facing financial hardships to learning how to adapt to new norms like working remotely for the very first time, there is no shortage of challenging times that we all collectively had to endure in recent months.

But all of this change is much easier to navigate when there’s mutual empathy or understanding of someone else’s feelings or experiences present. Having the ability to understand what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes not only helps you make better decisions as a professional leader but allows you to build better relationships rooted in a deeper understanding, compassion, and trust.

And I noticed the impact leading with empathy had on me firsthand when I started practicing it with my team members. After making the time to get…

B. Pagels-Minor

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