I remember the first time I cried someone else’s tears. I was in first grade, and my classmate’s dad had passed away suddenly. My mom came into my brothers’ room where the three of us were giggling and watching TV, and she told me the news. Instantly, I felt sick to my stomach. She was pale as she sat on the bottom bunk bed next to me, looked me in the eye and said, “Be a good friend through this.”
Empathy is a strange ability, and it’s one that’s affected me my entire life. I’ve always felt other people’s emotions like a weight in my gut. I thought maybe I was dramatic. Maybe I cared too much. Maybe I craved attention. I wasn’t supposed to feel this way.
In business, emotions can cause complications. They can blur your judgment and lead to rash decisions or overstepped boundaries. But they can also be a breath of fresh air—a comforting sense of genuineness.
Every businessperson has their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. Many believe that empathy is the latter—a flaw, a quality that hinders development. However, when fully embraced, it’s quite the opposite.
Being a good leader doesn’t mean being like everyone else; it means being who you are and honing your own strengths. If you’re an empath, you might be more sensitive and emotional than others, and that’s OK. In fact, it can even help you thrive in business. Here’s how.