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Friday, 14 August 2015

Why Is my Empathic Boss So Wishy-Washy?

Why Is my Empathic Boss So Wishy-Washy?
May 20, 2014 · by Lorna Tedder
· in Empathy

Hi dear friends and followers, today we examing empathy in the work place. Thank you very much for visiting my blog and reading this entry.

Question: My employer made us take personality tests last week. The test claimed I have an empathic boss (his test). Is this why he is so wishy-washy?

Note: Oh yes, I most certainly had this experience more than once in the workplace, where the other person's proposal turned out to being inferior to my own. Took me a few knocks before learning to think, well Mr boss, suffer the consequences then just move on. Not much else I could do. "Saying I told you so certainly wouldn't gain me anything but grief."

Very possible. Almost everyone in the corporate world has heard about that boss who makes decisions based on the last person in his office, even though he’s given approval or tentative approval to several different opinions throughout the day. An empathic boss can easily hear the argument for a certain path forward and earnestly agree with what has been presented. An hour later, a different opinion is presented–sometimes an opposite opinion–and the boss agrees earnestly with it as well, no matter how different from the opinion presented earlier.

What’s happening is that the boss is identifying strongly–too strongly–with each person who romps into his office with a strong opinion and strong emotions about an issue. The emotions of the presenter become the emotions of the boss, and the decisions seem absolutely right if he makes them in the moment where he is still identifying with the presenter.

For myself, as an empathic boss, I know that there are certain areas where I have trouble maintaining boundaries (not telling what!) but I’ve come up with ways to take my emotions and the emotions of those around me out of the mix in making my decision. Occasionally, I’ll find myself strongly swayed on a path forward, and if I can simply break away to walk 10 minutes over to the Post Office and back, the swirl of someone else’s emotions have abated and I can make a decision with a clear head and no empathic influence. Other times, I need more time to be “out of the energy” of the person presenting a particular idea to me for approval. 

I’ll plan a long walk after work, sleep on it, and then have a clear decision in the morning, again unmuddled by the emotions of the person so wanting me to approve the idea. It’s not that I don’t have strong opinions of my own–the problem areas for me are when I don’t have a strong opinion or don’t particularly care which path forward I take…but others do.

Note: This is very good advice. To my experience, snap decisions never ended up working out very well in my favor. At any rate, not without hurting someone else in the process

Empath in the work place

Invisible Armor: Protecting Your Empathy at Work 

Sitting in my cube one day at work with a deadline looming overhead, I was desperately trying to concentrate and couldn’t sit still. I cleared my desk, adjusted my chair, cranked as much soothing music as I could find, but nothing was working. Did I drink too much coffee? Wait, I haven’t had caffeine in over five years…

Out of total desperation I got up, walked around the office, and parked myself in the first empty conference room I could find. As soon as I sat down and opened my laptop my head was clear. I got my wireframes done in record time. This stark contrast – between the jackhammer at my desk and the 2001-Space-Odyssey-like womb in the conference room – truly amazed me.

Wait a minute, I thought. My cube-mate is going through some pretty intense personal issues right now…could that be affecting me? I quickly googled “picking up other people’s vibes” and was introduced to the fascinating world of empathy.


Empathy is defined as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another.” It’s clearly a quality that – beyond being inherently human – is necessary for user-centered design. Designers must learn to naturally pick up on the unsaid. This, in turn, allows them to successfully read others’ needs and wants and have them reflected in their design.

However, there’s a dark side to empathy that is rarely discussed. UX Booth’s own Andrew Maier explains in his article about reducing noise, that “although office environments are designed to encourage creativity, their inhabitants can occasionally hinder it”.
“Sometimes we can become overwhelmed by empathy at work,” adds Judith Orloff, MD, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and author of “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life.” She stresses that “in the workplace, empathy has both an upside and a downside. People who are extremely empathic and sensitive need to be aware of both.”

The key, she says, is to pinpoint if you are a super sensitive person (or empath, as she terms them) and “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.”

All this talk of empathy may have you wondering if you’re an empath yourself. I know I did. If so, you’re in luck! Here’s the self-assessment test from Dr. Orloff’s book:
Have I been labelled by coworkers as “too emotional ” or overly sensitive?
If a coworker 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?
Do my nerves get frayed by office noise, machine noise, smells, or excessive talking?
Do I prefer working quietly and off by myself?
Do I overeat or need a hour hour cocktail to deal with work-related stress?

Note: Noise pollution of any kind definitely will irritate a sensitive or empathic person, whether it be psychic or oddible noise pollution including some sounds on a level that most don't even notice and there are many of those type of sounds.


Ok, so: thanks to an unpleasant alcohol intolerance, happy hour cocktails are out of the question. Other than that, though, I checked every single box in Dr. Orloff’s self-assesment. I guess I am an empath! This revelatory experience made me realize that I sorely needed to find a way to carry peace and quiet with me everywhere I went.

Nowadays many companies are working hard at harnessing empathy during turbulent times, as Dev Patnaik, author of “Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy” explains. Humans have an intrinsic and sophisticated way of stepping into someone else’s shoes, but he maintains “the problem with business today isn’t a lack of innovation; it’s a lack of empathy.”

Related talks of an “empathy deficit” in our country point to our overly connected and financially stressful lives as the culprit. Patnaik says that “for many of the world’s greatest companies, it’s an ever-present but rarely talked-about engine for growth.”


In my search for the right technique to achieve “mobile peace,” I came across a set of meditation classes from a Bay Area school called Psychic Horizons. They seemed simple enough. Their Foundation Classes are organized around five basic premises, the first one being “You can separate yourself from all the influences around you.”

This was music to my ears. There, I learned about grounding, centering, and setting energetic boundaries. For boundaries, the instructor recommended we visualize a rose (or any everyday object outside of our space) and imagine that that rose serves as an energy-catcher. This allows you to process the good “stuff” you pick up from others, but not the bad “stuff.”

Dr. Orloff calls this “shielding yourself,” and offers up a similar technique in her article “How to Stop Absorbing the Energy of Others.” She suggests you imagine an envelope of white light (or any color you feel imparts power) around your entire body: “think of it as a shield that blocks out negativity or physical discomfort but allows what’s positive to filter in.” She also recommends to walk away, practice vulnerability and meditate.

The day after the boundaries class I eagerly put what I learned into practice, imagining roses all around me. Upon walking into the office I did a quick inner checkup to see what I felt, and lo and behold, I felt calm, quiet and peaceful. I did not feel the typical stress that accompanied me only while I was physically in the office. And that helped me tremendously to get my work done, even amidst the angst around me due to corporate layoffs.


Invisible armor isn’t all roses, so to speak. There are many shielding techniques out there, some as simple as crossing your arms or standing slightly sideways in front of someone who is particularly upsetting to you. Another involves going outside and touching the ground with your bare feet.

NOTE: One way I have developed how to ground and is not time consuming. Find a quiet place for a couple of minutes, just a couple of minutes, this can be done while visiting the ladies room of gentlemans room. Sit down and close your eyes, relax as best you can then imagine a brook. You can hear the water gurgling over the stones, it is fall and the leaves are falling in the book floating downstream. Each leaf is white noise or psychic noise or voices and thoughts of other people, let them float down the stream with the leaves. 

Yvonne Perry, a metaphysical teacher, poses that just like an electrical appliance needs grounding to operate, our bodies need to connect to the earth from time to time in order to function properly. “When you are grounded, you feel deeply connected to yourself and at peace with everything around you”, she states in her book “Whose Stuff Is This? Finding Freedom from the Thoughts, Feelings, and Energy of Those Around You.” Perry also offers up an interesting psychological perspective on why some people become empaths in the first place: “many empaths grew up with parents who were emotionally volatile.” Therefore, they learned to pick up on subtle shifts in energy to avoid conflict, she says.

The fact is that everyone has empathic abilities – whether they admit it or not – and that given the right environment those abilities can become your most trusted ally. As Dr. Orloff says “if you can find the right balance it will only bode well for your company and career.” Harnessing empathy has definitely become an ally for me, enabling a level of focus that I wasn’t able to reach before. Now, lets all go running barefoot in the park.

Note: This is true, everyone has empathy to different levels but many are just not aware that they do. If there is any such being who claim they do not have or deny having empathinc abilities that would only be possible if they do not have any feelings at all. So totally brainwashed and out of touch with reality to not feel anything is not a place I would relish much to visit.  
Thank you very much again, dear friends, for visiting my blog. Please share your thoughts with us, if you will. Have a great day. 

ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

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