Continuing with my series of blogs exploring what we need to consider to develop robust resilience I would like to spend another week focusing on empathy.
I was watching an old re-run of the USA version of the “Biggest Loser” and was curious about a set of reactions I noticed in one of the participants. This participant had changed which trainer he worked with (not by choice) and was feeling upset and angry.
He had taken himself off into an extreme victim position which then resulted in two weeks of poor or no weightloss. The second week had also included a 24 hour trip to a luxury hotel where quite frankly he and the other participants with him had gone on a binge.
On return to the weigh in room the results were poor. Instead of taking ownership of the results this participant blamed the trainer. He was unwilling to take ownership of his own experience and accused the trainer of not helping him.
Now you may be asking what does this have to do with empathy? Let us back track for a moment. When he changed trainers he made it clear he didn’t like it, he was hostile to his new trainer and dismissive of her approaches.
To give the trainer credit she preserved however it is possible that she may have withdrawn a little from this participant. The participant had not appreciated the impact his negative behaviour had on the trainer (lack of empathy).
To provide a bit more context here for those of you unfamiliar with the show, this particular trainer usually has a great capacity herself to have empathy for the people she is helping. She often helps people to have major breakthroughs sometimes using tough love. Her empathy is usually high however maintaining rapport in the face of such hostility was clearly challenging.
My reason for including this example is as a reminder to us all to remember to take ownership of our own experience. If we are finding another person difficult it is worth asking ourselves some important questions:
- How have I been engaging with this person?
- What is going on for them that may be causing this lack of rapport?
- What is clouding my ability to understanding of this relationship dynamic?
- What can I do to put myself in their shoes?
- What else could be going on?
I’m going to keep it short this week and I would be interested to hear from you, what other questions are useful to help keep us owning our “stuff”? Write to me with your comments.