Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast. In this episode, Daniel Goleman and Anthony Gell discuss challenges faced by empathetic leaders.
Anthony Gell- Empathy, lets pick up on that for a second. Daniel, in your first book you mentioned about empathy and how important that is and obviously there’s different types of empathy. But talk about the spectrum, if you’ve got on one level of the spectrum you’ve got the sociopath and on the other one you’ve got somebody that’s just absolutely besotted by other people’s feelings, is it important to have a balance? Obviously you can be too far toward the sociopath spectrum, but can you be too far [the other] way?
Daniel Goleman- Yeah, you see that in people for example in the helping professions- nurses, say- who are taking care of people who are suffering, who are in pain, who are angry. Who pick up those emotions and can’t metabolize them. It changes their internal state instead of them changing the patients’ state, because of, you could say, this too empathic stance. What’s missing there is self-management, self-regulation as we say. That is to say, the people who are most effective don’t tune out in order to protect themselves, and turn off to other people. They stay open but they’re able to pass that through, to manage their own inner state at the same time as they’re being receptive. That’s the best.
AG- OK, that’s great. So you can be in an empathetic situation but not allow it to be to heavily on your shoulders, take it too personally.
DG- It’s more than that. It’s that you don’t let it change your state. You stay stable in the positive state you need.
AG- And therefore you wouldn’t be as stressed as you would be.
DG- Yeah, so it rolls off.