With over 25 years experience of driving complex change programs, one of the key things I learned was the power of empathy. It’s often said that people fear change, that they resist it and that often they can derail it.
All of which are true.
But when you master empathy it allows you to put yourself in the shoes of those who either need to implement the change or who are impacted by the change.
This allows you to approach it from their perspective, rather than issuing top-down commands that end up achieving nothing.
You have to get people to buy-in to change, you have to communicate it in a way that sells the benefits to them, and without an understanding of their position and feelings, which comes from empathy, this can be very difficult.
I know that the more I developed my empathy, the better the leader I became and the easier it was to drive complex and difficult change. This was I was able to overcome resistance because I could see where it was coming from, what was causing it and I was able to allay the fears, many of which were just misunderstandings.
Here are 25 quotes on empathy to help increase your understanding and the power that empathy can bring to you.
- I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it. – Maya Angelou
- Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place. Daniel H Pik
- If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far. – Daniel Goleman
- When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems. – Stephen Covey
- The opposite of anger is not calmness, its empathy. – Mehmet Oz
- Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself. = Mohsin Hamid
- Learning a foreign language, and the culture that goes with it, is one of the most useful things we can do to broaden the empathy and imaginative sympathy and cultural outlook of children. – Michael Gove
- Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals. – Neil Gaiman
- Empathy is the most mysterious transaction that the human soul can have, and it’s accessible to all of us, but we have to give ourselves the opportunity to identify, to plunge ourselves in a story where we see the world from the bottom up or through another’s eyes or heart. – Sue Monk Kidd
- Entrepreneurs may be brutally honest, but fostering relationships with partners and building enduring communities requires empathy, self-sacrifice and a willingness to help others without expecting anything in return. – Ben Parr
- Empathy and social skills are social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence. That’s why they look alike. – Daniel Goleman
- It’s very difficult to design something for someone if you have no empathy. – Stewart Butterfield
- When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you. – Susan Sarandon
- We have to teach empathy as we do literacy. – Bill Drayton
- I always think that if you look at anyone in detail, you will have empathy for them because you recognize them as a human being, no matter what they’ve done. – Andrea Arnold
- I think we are living in selfish times. I’m the first one to say that I’m the most selfish. We live in the so-called ‘first world,’ and we may be first in a lot of things like technology, but we are behind in empathy. – Javier Bardem
- Most women prefer circles of sharing to pyramids and hierarchies. They prefer conversation to construction. They will usually choose nurturance and empathy over competition and climbing. They will normally choose connection over simple performance games. – Richard Rohr
- Human morality is unthinkable without empathy. – Frans de Waal
- Learning is a result of listening, which in turn leads to even better listening and attentiveness to the other person. In other words, to learn from the child, we must have empathy, and empathy grows as we learn. Alice Miller
- Change begins with understanding and understanding begins by identifying oneself with another person: in a word, empathy. The arts enable us to put ourselves in the minds, eyes, ears and hearts of other human beings. Richard Eyre
- What’s important now are the characteristics of the brain’s right hemisphere: artistry, empathy, inventiveness, big-picture thinking. These skills have become first among equals in a whole range of business fields. – Daniel H. Pink
- The main tenet of design thinking is empathy for the people you’re trying to design for. Leadership is exactly the same thing – building empathy for the people that you’re entrusted to help. – David M. Kelley
- Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change. – Max Carver
- Empathy is key in the design process, especially when you start expanding outside of your comfort zone to new languages, cultures, and age groups. If you try to assume what those people want, you’re likely to get it wrong. – Mike Krieger
- This is a wonderful planet, and it is being completely destroyed by people who have too much money and power and no empathy. – Alice Walker
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