Here Are The Right & Wrong Answers To The Quiz "Do You Know How To Listen With Empathy?"

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Empathy can absolutely be developed. Read the answer key below and keep developing your empathy skills!

And be sure to check out Mark Murphy's latest book "Truth at Work: The Science of Delivering Tough Messages" for advanced skills on empathy, listening, delivering tough messages and more!

ANSWER KEY:

Your friend says: “My company is doing horribly right now, we can’t stop losing money.”
You reply: “Well, one thing I do know is that complaining never helps.”
EXPLANATION: Not Empathic. This is a great example of a statement that is absolutely unempathic. And it was an easy question with which to start the quiz.

Your friend says: “I’ve got huge concerns about whether I’m going to have a job next month. It’s so stressful.”
You reply: “I had that same situation at my company a few years ago.”
EXPLANATION: Not Empathic. While it can be comforting to know that others have had similar experiences, this reply essentially tells the friend that their situation is not particularly unique. And it shifts the conversation to focus on us rather than our friend.

Your friend says: “I’m probably going to get an ulcer from all this stress.”
You reply: “You know what? I find that enduring these kinds of really tough situations can be great chances for us to grow.”
EXPLANATION: Not Empathic. This is a veiled form of advice that tells our friend that we know better than they do what their next steps should be. And it can be presumptuous for us to think we have a quick fix to their issue. The best solutions will often come from them, not us.

Your friend says: “My boss has been so stressed about the finances that they’re yelling at me constantly about the stupidest little things.”
You reply: “It’s probably a blessing in disguise, because now you see what your boss is really like.”
EXPLANATION: Not Empathic. This is a subtle rationalization that allows us to stop listening to, and empathizing with, our friend because it’s probably going to work out just fine. So we don’t need to really invest any more emotional energy in this conversation.

Your friend says: “Finances are so tight that not even high performers like me are going to get bonuses.”
You reply: “You should find a new job that actually appreciates you.”
EXPLANATION: Not Empathic. Like a previous response, this is a form of advice that tells our friend that we know better than they do what their next steps should be. And it shifts us out of truly listening to our friend.

Your friend says: “The president of our division stopped by to do a town hall meeting but literally no employee was allowed to ask any questions.”
You reply: “Yeah, nobody is ever allowed to talk to the bigwigs.”
EXPLANATION: Not Empathic. Like a previous reply, this reply essentially tells the friend that their situation is just like everyone else’s’. And it subtly diminishes the uniqueness of their situation.

Your friend says: “I’m not sure I see any future in this industry.”
You reply: “I know it seems tough right now, but you’re going to make it through this.”
EXPLANATION: Not Empathic. While this might seem helpful, the subtle underlying message is that your friend really ‘shouldn’t’ feel upset.

Your friend says: “I’m so mad at myself for taking a job at this company.”
You reply: “I’m sorry to hear that you’re mad at yourself.”
EXPLANATION: Empathic. While some people look at this reply and think ‘that’s not super helpful’ it’s a good example of empathy. Our role is not to give everyone magical fixes; sometimes we need to empathize, listen and reflect.

Your friend says: “I used to have a great relationship with my boss, but now it’s just micromanaging and yelling.”
You reply: “That must be really frustrating.”
EXPLANATION: Empathic. You’re able to take your friend’s perspective; you’re listening to them and reflecting back what you hear.

This article written by Mark Murphy, Founder of Leadership IQ

Mark Murphy is a New York Times bestselling author, contributor to Forbes & CNBC, ranked as a Top 30 Leadership Guru, and the Founder of Leadership IQ.

Mark Murphy has created some of the biggest ideas in leadership and his work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Time, CNN, The New York Times, Fast Company, Forbes and hundreds more.

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