Mistaking Empathy for Agreement

The Concept

When we are empathetic and present with people, they may confuse that with agreement on their position. And then when that position is tested, feel betrayed when we don’t have their back in the way they assumed. Part of this rub comes because some people have only experienced intimacy in situations where there is no dissent in opinion. Another part of this rub stems from the conflation of support and consensus—the lack of experience in being all in with each other even when there is fundamental disagreement on issues.


The Deep Dive

Describe a situation where it is more important to just be with a person than it is to help them clarify their position or perception. Describe a situation where it’s more essential to help a person clarify or think about things differently. What are the markers that help you know the best approach?

Who on the team is more likely to error on the side of fully showing up, but not challenging the assumptions and conclusions of the other person? Who is more likely to error on the side of challenging and clarifying, but at the expense of the other person feeling like they no longer have an ally who is all in?

Imagine the energies you radiate when dissenting or challenging positions. Now imagine the energies you radiate when things are going well, you are inspired, or find yourself in the most ideal circumstance. Is it possible to disagree with an opinion or conclusion while simultaneously infusing the conversation with enabling, opening, and reconciliatory energies?