Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Leaders with high emotional intelligence (EI) understand their own emotional state, enabling them to more accurately gauge the emotions of others, and to exercise empathy to better understand the genesis of these emotions. Employing empathy stimulates more thoughtful and productive dialogue, accelerating conflict resolution and producing more deliberate decisions. It’s the core ingredient of strong emotional intelligence. Leaders driving change appreciate the role that emotions play in motivating people to invest in change initiatives. Those who master the use of empathy, appreciate that its application has two levels:

  • The first level involves active listening, being mindful and in the moment with the speaker, observing what emotions are evident in how the message is being delivered, asking clarifying and confirming questions to provide feedback, and deferring judgement.
  • The deeper level of empathy typically follows after the active listening phase, and is a reaction to what has been learned thus far. This level involves asking the speaker why he or she holds the belief embedded in their position, encouraging the speaker to reflect and share more about its underlying motivations. What emerges is a more comprehensive understanding of what drives the speaker’s viewpoint so that constructive dialogue may follow.

Facilitating productive conflict discussions is a necessary step towards securing commitment and shared ownership of a decision. Leaders who effectively use empathy accelerate the resolution required to achieve these desired outcomes. 

How skilled is your use of empathy?

How are you measuring the effectiveness of 
your conflict management?