The Crucial Secret Sauce

The Crucial Secret Sauce

What’s the ONE THING we can do to fix the problems of the world right now? When posed that question, Chat GPT replied:

“If each individual were to cultivate a consistent practice of empathy—the ability to understand and share the feelings of others—if could potentially bring about a dramatic and transformative change in society.”

Sounds simple enough. In reality, it’s easier said than done. In today’s video, Carlos Quintero of EKG Power shares some much-needed strategies to get better at this crucial SKILL.

Watch the video below … or read the transcript.

JILL: Hi there. I'm Jill Konrath from What's Really Possible. And I'm here with Carlos Quintero, the leader of EKG Power in South Carolina.;

EKG stands for empathy, kindness and gratitude. In today’s world, they’re important things—especially if you want good relationships.

We’re going to continue our conversation today on empathy being the secret sauce for closing this great divide that's separating us from all the others. Let's jump right in.

First of all, Carlos, sometimes I have trouble having empathy. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way. Sometimes I’d just like to scream at people and say, “How can you believe that? Just where did that come from?” And I want to just jump on them.

CARLOS QUINTERO: That's normal.

JILL: Any ideas?

CARLOS: Again, that's normal. I think a lot of people react to the set of circumstances in front of them. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself, “What's your intent? What are you trying to accomplish when you're connecting with others?”

Because if you want to scream and you want them to see that emotion, then that might be okay. It just depends on where you would take it.

JILL: I love it. You need to focus on your intent first. And, if your intent is to make a difference in your community or your church or your school or wherever you're at— jumping all over somebody isn't going to do it. You have to change your behavior. Right?

CARLOS: That's the reality. And that's why I believe so strongly in the power of empathy. And why it's so critical for all leaders, all individuals to be recognize its value. I wish we were taught that back in our high school days and college days.

JILL: I don't think anybody ever taught any of us anything about empathy. I don't remember having any classes in how to be a good listener, how to ask good questions or anything like that.

You were on your own. And maybe you did what your family did and people around you did. Maybe that was good or maybe it wasn't.


JILL: So, let's talk about why is empathy so crucial in this world of ours today?

CARLOS: Sure, it's an important question. I mean, when you think about it, everyone is hungry for interpersonal relationships and an interpersonal connection. Yes, we had a little bit of a hiatus during the pandemic.

But even so, we want that connection—if it's virtual like we're doing now, or in person. So, number one, it's vital for the future because everyone has this desire to have strong interpersonal connections.

JILL: Well, I'm just going to expand on that. Look at the depression rates among young people who spend all their time on social media. They're not getting empathy. They're getting messages and they're viewing everything else, but people aren't talking. And there are a whole bunch of other people who are single and alone.

CARLOS: I remember three or four years ago when I got up a little earlier to see the bus pick up people in the neighborhood and everyone was staring at their phones. They weren't talking to each other.

So, the reason empathy is so critical is because we need that interpersonal connection. That's number one.

JILL: And, when you've got your cell phone right there, it's so easy to tune out. Then you don't have to talk to others or get uncomfortable talking to strangers. But intrinsically, we need the connection. We need to be part of a tribe.

CARLOS: Well, everyone wants to also feel that you hear them. Empathy allows you to appreciate where they're coming from. It's an essential skill that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion, which is so important part in our diverse society and world.

Empathy is at the core of that. It opens another person's minds to collaborate. Because, if your intent is to learn, to gain understanding, to recognize where that person is coming from—then it creates the breeding ground for good commonality and collaboration with compassion.

And an important part of empathy is also that you're doing so without passing judgment. And that's tough. It's really tough.

JILL: Bite your tongue. That's right.

CARLOS: You just got to bite that tongue and listen. We'll talk more in one of our series about reflective listening, the importance of active listening and passive listening in order to be very empathetic and compassionate with others.

JILL: Yes, it is hard. Yet it's so important because if somebody listens to you and asks you questions, you feel heard. I mean, you really feel heard and understood.

And if they’d present something different to you or share another perspective, you’d be so much more open to what they were suggesting because now you're not being jumped on or judged or whatever. You're being talked to as a human being.

CARLOS: Well, the other thing I love about empathy is that it really tries to promote mental wellness and well-being. You're not trying to solve anything yet.

One of the critical skills of being empathetic is to learn to listen, to understand, and not to solve and not to pass judgment. That’s so difficult because immediately that’s exactly what you want to do. And, if you give in to temptation, you stop being empathetic.

JILL: And I’d just say that guys tend to want to fix things and they jump in with solutions. That's been my personal experience with some of the men in my life. But that's not what you want. You want to be heard.

CARLOS: One reason women are becoming such great leaders in other parts of the world—and here in the United States—is that they have more of that instinct, right? The caring, collaborative, motherly instinct. And many men, of course, want to just cut to the chase.

JILL: Let's get this problem solved.

CARLOS: It’s all about problem solving or moving on. Sometimes moving on is not the right decision. The right decision is to explore further.

One of the best things a good coach can say is, “Let's set this aside for a week, reflect on this. Let's look at this question. When we talk again next week, we'll look at this one a little bit in a different perspective.”

Makes sense that way. You're not solving right away, but you're trying to have that person reflect further, and you reflect further as their coach or as their helper.

JILL: And there's so many other questions that you can be asking as opposed to immediately needing to solve the issue. You could ask: Who else could be involved? What else could we do? How have other people solved it? What are we really trying to accomplish? I mean, there's so many good questions that could be asked.

CARLOS: Well, you’ve got to be also careful in the process of asking questions—as you know from all our experiences in sales. Don't want to sound like you're interrogating. Right.

JILL: That's important.

CARLOS: And you have to be careful that it doesn't feel like you're attacking. So, you have to be very attentive to your passive skills, your tone of voice, your eye contact, your body language, because those are the things that can give you away.

JILL: You don't think that this gives me away? Like, I'm upset. Sorry, didn't mean to scare you. Carlos?

CARLOS: Yeah. It's Halloween. That's good. Yeah.

JILL: Okay, I have one more question for you. How's empathy different from sympathy?

CARLOS: They're both similar. The primary difference is that sympathy is much more connecting from an emotional perspective and that you, as the sympathetic person, maybe have felt those situations in the past.

Someone passes away, you have sympathy because maybe you've experienced it before. Right? And so, there's more emotion involved in sympathy.

Whereas in empathy, you're trying to understand and acknowledge, but not necessarily agreeing at the immediate state where you're doing empathy. So that's the way I see it. What do you think is a difference?

JILL: Empathy shows understanding and caring for an individual. You’re hearing them, you're recognizing them as a human being, you feel that their opinions and ideas are worth listening to. They may be different from yours, your experience, but they're valuable and people want to feel that way.

CARLOS: To feel valuable and heard. Where sympathy is a little bit of all that, but it's trying to …

JILL: To pat you on the back.

CARLOS: Right. Well, it's fact that I've been there, pathetic to your situation and some people say it's expressing pity. I don't like the word pity.

JILL: I hate it.

CARLOS: It's a little bit of that too. Right.

JILL: Okay, that's all we're going to talk about. Empathy. This secret sauce that we have to learn how to get good at. And we will be talking more about that for our next video. We are going to be talking about jumping to conclusions.

CARLOS: Wow, that's a big topic.

JILL Yes, it is. But we'll have fun talking about it. So, thanks again, Carlos. We'll be back soon.

CARLOS: You're very welcome.


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