How to Show Empathy When Dealing with Chaos

If you are a leader, knowing how to show empathy will improve your leadership skills, especially when dealing with chaos.

When people experience chaos, they feel more stress and often do things out of character. Instead of being reactive, your ability to show empathy during chaotic times, will help make things easier for others and for yourself.

Empathy is the ability to acknowledge and understand what someone is going through. It’s the ability to experience a situation from other people’s perspective.

When you show empathy, you can use your understanding of what someone is experiencing, to support them and offer insights that can shift their emotional state.

Sometimes, empathy is confused with sympathy. They are not the same. Sympathy is feeling worry or concern for someone, based on something they have experienced or something you have observed.

A person can feel sympathy for another person knowing nothing about what they are experiencing.

When you show empathy, it usually means:

  • You understand someone’s situation as best as you can.
  • You can see things from someone’s point of view..
  • There is a level of trust between you and another person.
  • You have suspended any judgment you may have about a person.
  • You can listen well.
  • You are supportive and caring.
  • You want the best outcome for the person going through a chaotic situation.

Developing and showing empathy is a key component of emotional intelligence, which is an important leadership skill.

how to show empathy

Here are five things you can do to show empathy when dealing with chaos, so you can lead with confidence and guide others to reach their objectives.

  1. Listen and give your full attention to what others are sharing. Most times, when things are challenging and people are struggling, they want to be heard. When people are heard, they feel respected and valued. When you listen well, you will better understand what others are experiencing.
  2. Challenge your biases or preconceived prejudices. Everyone has biases. Judgmental thoughts such as, “Just get over it” or “I have more important things to focus on” will not help. Your ability to see something from another person’s perspective starts with letting go of how you see things. See a situation from their perspective by imagining being them and experiencing what they are.
  3. Share what is going on with you. Leaders who can show vulnerability often stand out from those that don’t. When dealing with chaos, you may not have all the answers. Have the courage to open up and be vulnerable, and share how you are feeling.
  4. Redirect conversations to outcomes. Sometimes people want to be heard. There are also times when your responsibility is to remind them of your collective outcomes. When you get others to focus on the big picture, situations that have no bearing on where you are heading, will fall away.
  5. Encourage new actions. While giving others the space to be heard is valuable, reality will only change when new actions are taken. It’s important you don’t solve their problems. Offer others help or guidance, if needed. Encourage others to focus on what they can change, rather than on things beyond their control.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when showing empathy.

  1. Do not participate in making a situation worse than it is.
  2. Manage your emotional state well.
  3. Do not ignore what someone is feeling by diverting to something positive.
  4. Resist the temptation to fix a problem instead of hearing someone out first.

When others are struggling to deal with change or have experienced something unexpected, your ability to show empathy will go a long way.

If you show empathy during chaotic times, you will develop a higher level of trust with others, which will help you become a better leader.

If you don’t develop the ability to show empathy, you won’t build close connections with others, which means your ability to influence them will not be strong.

Action Step: During conversations, listen attentively and practice seeing things from other people’s perspective. Instead of giving advice, suspend your biases and guide others to the outcomes they want.

Question: When dealing with chaos, what else will help with knowing how to show empathy?

How to Be a More Persuasive Person
5 Things You Can Do to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
7 Quick Hacks That Will Make You Mentally Stronger Now
How to Develop the Skill of Curiosity
How to Handle Passive-Aggressive Behaviour
5 Easy Things That Will Improve Your Mental Toughness

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Neel Raman

Neel Raman


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