Thursday, August 06, 2009

Is Empathy Helping or Hurting Your Career?

By Judith Orloff, MD
(Adapted from "Emotional Freedom")

- Have I been labeled by coworkers as "too emotional" or overly sensitive?
- If a co-worker is distraught, does it affect my mood at work?
- Are my feelings easily hurt when a supervisor or peer delivers negative feedback?
- Am I emotionally drained when I have to work closely with others, and do I require time alone to revive? (see footnote 1)
- Do my nerves get frayed by office noise, machine noise, smells, or excessive talking? (see footnote 2)
- Do I prefer working quietly and off by myself? (see footnote 1 and footnote 2)
- Do I overeat or need a happy hour cocktail to deal with work-related stress? (see footnote 3)

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you're at least part empath. Responding yes to more than three indicates that you're quite sensitive and empathic.

You are big hearted, and big-hearted people are gifted helpers and mentors. Empaths are patient, kind, and compassionate--just what you need as a manager, trainer, or team leader.

You are passionate, and passionate people put their all into projects. Empathetic people are passionate about their beliefs and ideas. In creative roles, or as sales or marketing people, passion is a plus.

You are intuitive, and intutive people can read between the lines. Empaths often perceive gray areas in a discussion or sense unspoken tension in meetings. Their ability to read others' feelings is a critical skill in negotiating and personnel management.

You are an emotionally responsive person, and that means you are a great communicator. Listening is an essential business skill, and those who are best at it are emotional empaths who have a well-developed ability to relate to others, and then interpret or build on what they see and hear.

You are "in touch" with your emotions, which means others can connect well with you. We most admire and best relate to people who are authentic. In other words, they show their emotions. In the business world, being "real" helps you build networks, earn the loyalty of others, win clients, and forge alliances.

You're an emotional sponge. Super empathetic people tend to pick up on others' emotions. This can be detrimental when a cool-headed leader is needed, or when an objective perspective would yield a clearer decision.

You're prone to anxiety, depression, and fatigue. If you're always tuned in to coworkers' feelings, it's difficult to keep your nerves from getting frazzled. You need to be able to process emotions coming at you from all directions.

You may find it hard to work well with others. Empaths often need to work alone, and they seek solitude in order to regain their calm. Others may see you as antisocial.

If you are a super sensitive and empathetic person, be aware of the ways this wonderful trait serves you in the workplace. But be extra careful to protect your emotional and physical health, because empathetic people are, by definition, more vulnerable and open than their peers.

***To purchase “Emotional Freedom” with 100 free gifts from noted transformational leaders such as Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Michael Beckwith, Dr. Bruce Lipton, Shirley Maclaine and more go to :

Judith Orloff MD is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA. This article was adapted from her new book, Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Harmony Books, 2009, $24.95), which is on The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. For more information on Dr. Orloff, visit

***To purchase “Emotional Freedom” with 100 free gifts from noted transformational leaders such as Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Michael Beckwith, Dr. Bruce Lipton, Shirley Maclaine and more go to :

Footnote 1: The ability to tolerate, even welcome, noise in your workplace is a result of your Working Style Preferences. Please click here to see whether you need background noise in order to concentrate.

Footnote 2: The preference for working alone or in a group is a Working Style Element. Please click here to see your optimal work group.

Footnote 3: The tendency to nibble is ingrained in Working Style. Please click here to see what you need when you work on something new or difficult.

All footnotes are authored by Creative Learning.

1 comment:

Voice T1 said...

working with empath people ma sometimes distress me... maybe, by this, sometimes I'm part empath, i think..