There is so much happening in 2020 that can impact us emotionally. Even in our usual day-to-day, we experience exponential change that impacts how we feel. It used to be that emotions were kept separate from work. We now know that emotions impact us both personally and at work, and there is an increased willingness to approach it differently and appropriately.
Whether it is part of a consistent one to one meeting with a leader to an empathy circle at work where you can share openly to providing Employee Assistance Programs with coaching or counselling, organizations are stepping into the arena of attending to the feelings of their people and understanding that people bring their whole selves to work. If leaders, teams and individuals at work can support people to share and identify emotions appropriately, more people can feel heard, included, and respected, and process emotions usefully.
Most recently, I have heard of the formation of Empathy Circles in organizations. The goal is for all present to practice empathizing, to the best of their ability, with themselves and with their fellow circle members. “More specifically, an Empathy Circle is a method for practicing and experiencing empathy in a small group setting. A Circle is a sort of empathy building ‘platform’ on which various activities and processes can be added. For example, Empathy Circles have been used to host book club discussions, conflict management discussions, for personal support and discussions centered around social tragedies. Regardless of the event that occasioned the Circle, the goal is for all present to practice empathizing, to the best of their ability, with themselves and with their fellow circle members. This entails being present with one another in a non-judgmental, authentic, open, and receptive way.” Empathy takes practice and persistence. Empathy Circles support this through practice. For more information on how to form an Empathy Circle, roles, and participation click this link: (http://cultureofempathy.com/Community/Handouts/How-To-Empathic-Listening.htm).
With the current pandemic as well as recent protests, Empathy Circles are a helpful way to process what we are experiencing emotionally, to remember that we are in this together, and to connect to support healthy expression of our feelings. This also relates to Emotional Intelligence of which some components are identifying our own emotions, expressing them appropriately, and providing empathy for others to support them to identify and express their emotions and to build trusting relationships.
How are you supporting the people that report to you, your teams, your peers and others as we navigate new and sometimes incomprehensible times?
Yours in empathy,
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