From the Heart: How Empathy Drives Authentic Business Growth

Business Tips • March 14, 2024

Empathy shines brightly, especially in business, aiding collaboration and resolving conflicts. Yet, have you faced the paradox of being overly empathetic? I struggle with this, and it’s often a double-edged sword in my business ventures. Excessive empathy draws me into agreements with those unable to afford my services, leading to an unsustainable cycle of hard work for minimal compensation. This generosity, though well-intentioned, frequently results in burnout, as my drive to assist overshadows practical business considerations.

Being overly empathetic has resulted in my kindness being exploited or mismatched clients. Though empathy still lingers in my business decisions, I can think more logically after seeing how I can get burned. (Sometimes we have to learn things the hard way, right?) Anticipating their disappointment or dismissal my decisions had previously been heavily influenced by concern for others’ perceptions and feelings.

Conversely, empathy has forged valuable partnerships and friendships. A compassionate approach, such as extending invoice deadlines or offering initial service discounts, is often appreciated. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to remember the professional boundaries of business amidst compassion.

Empathy Triggers

The pandemic’s peak, marked by George Floyd’s tragic death and the Capitol storming, intensified my empathetic responses. These events, coupled with the accompanying media coverage, overwhelmed me with a mix of emotions, leading to a news hiatus. Such experiences underscore the potential downsides of empathy, hinting at its capacity to absorb negative energies excessively which can manifest into physical ailments.

Beyond Creative Gravity

My participation with two grief-focused organizations, Empower and Motherless Daughters, represents a personal journey of healing and support after my mother’s passing. While offering my empathy and compassion, I heed my therapist’s advice on self-care to avoid being engulfed by the emotions of those I aim to assist. My involvement has proven to be cathartic, underlining the importance of self-awareness in mental health.

Empathy in Personal Life

Empathy permeates my personal life, notably in my parenting approach. My tendency to empathize deeply with my children, particularly during disciplinary moments, often softens my stance, a trait many mothers might resonate with. This emotional attunement extends to sensing and absorbing my husband’s feelings, reflecting my aversion to conflict and negative energy. Can you relate?

If I Was As Strong As My Son

I invite your reflections on empathy. Whether it’s an innate trait, a learned skill, or an area of ongoing development, your experiences with empathy hold value. My oldest son’s autism presents a contrast in emotional response, offering a unique perspective on empathy’s role in our lives. He can make decisions quickly, without feelings involved. I have always admired this because my empathy has complicated many decisions in my life. We can always think with our hearts, in business, we should always lead with our brains.

I’m eager to hear about your empathy journey, both personally and professionally. Share your thoughts below.

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