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How’s Your EQ (Empathetic Quotient)?

Take This Quiz to Improve Yours

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Empathy, or being able to identify with the feelings, thoughts and attitudes of another person, is a crucial quality in today’s evolving workplaces. It can be the difference between keeping or losing valuable employees, engaging your team or running into resistance, and managing your emotions or spiraling out of control.

Especially in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, when employees fear their jobs are at risk and, if they’re working remotely, worry that they aren’t privy to all the internal information, employers need to show empathy by regularly communicating and checking in with their staff. Managers need to have transparent conversations with everybody at the firm to make sure they are updated on the issues the company is facing. Any austerity measures imposed should not come as a surprise or be levied hardheartedly.

Research confirms that we need more leaders equipped with emotional intelligence skills, including empathy. Strong interpersonal leadership styles are more effective than command-and-control styles in building a positive company culture. Empathy makes a leader approachable and allows team members to feel safe in sharing their thoughts and ideas. In workplaces where empathy is on display, it creates an environment in which team members are heard, valued and validated.

At the same time, it is possible to fall too far to either side of the empathy spectrum. People can have little or no empathy and therefore be thoughtless and insensitive, or they can have too much empathy and become overwrought by others’ pain or distress.

Take this short quiz to gauge your level of empathy and discover where your sensibilities fall along the empathy spectrum.

1. I can see things from the other person’s point of view. 

  • All the time
  • Most of the time
  • Sometimes
  • Not often
  • Never

2. Before criticizing someone, I try to image how I would feel in his or her place.

  • All the time
  • Most of the time
  • Sometimes
  • Not often
  • Never

3. Injustice makes me angry.

  • All the time
  • Most of the time
  • Sometimes
  • Not often
  • Never

4. I want to help when I see that someone is upset.

  • All the time
  • Most of the time
  • Sometimes
  • Not often
  • Never

5. It irritates me when someone cries.

  • All the time
  • Most of the time
  • Sometimes
  • Not often
  • Never

6. I don’t care about hearing other people’s opinions on issues for which I am certain that I’m right.

  • All the time
  • Most of the time
  • Sometimes
  • Not often
  • Never

7. Oftentimes, I find it difficult to see things from another person’s point of view.

  • All the time
  • Most of the time
  • Sometimes
  • Not often
  • Never

8. Everyone should follow the same rules, no matter their circumstances.

  • All the time
  • Most of the time
  • Sometimes
  • Not often
  • Never

Scoring

If you answered “All the time” or “Most of the time” to the top four questions, and “Not often” or “Never” to the bottom four questions, consider yourself highly empathetic. You are able to consider another’s perspective, show concern for others and feel compassion. Take note if your sensitivity to others may be leading you toward sensory overload or emotional burnout. You may be among the 20 percent of people who are empaths, or highly sensitive people who tend to be emotional sponges, and while your heightened perceptions are a gift, you may need to factor in time to decompress and center yourself.

On the other hand, if you answered “Not often” or “Never” to the top four questions and “All the time” or “Most of the time” to the bottom four, you lack empathy and it’s time that you worked on your listening skills, sensitivity and concern for others. The good news is that empathy and other emotional intelligence qualities can be cultivated and improved. Consider personal coaching or applying a concerted focus toward fostering more caring connections to coworkers.

If your answers varied across the categories, you can examine which issues you need to improve upon to better cultivate this important interpersonal skill.

In today’s workplaces, empathy is a strength. When you are empathetic toward others, they will respect you more and go the extra mile if they know that you care about them as individuals.

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