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The Ripple Effect of Empathy

I was in line at the grocery store, my cart full of groceries. There was only one cashier and a long line of people. I noticed that the person standing behind me in line only had a couple of items. They would have to wait for a while until my cart was processed, so I told them to go ahead of me. Lo and behold, another person stood behind me with a couple of items and I did the same thing—told them to go ahead. As I was standing there wondering if the universe was going keep sending more people with 2 items to stand behind me to see just how much I could handle, the cashier next to us opened and I knew I wouldn’t have to keep sending people ahead of me much longer. I must say my patience was starting to run a bit short.

As I was finishing up with the cashier, I asked her if she could use the store coupon that I forgot at home, and she did. She didn’t have to do that, she could have been grumpy with yet another customer asking for a coupon, so I thanked her for her help. She looked at me and said, “Thank YOU for being kind.”

I was very surprised and touched by her comment. I had no idea she knew I sent those people ahead of me in line or that she was paying attention to anything else beside the job at hand. Her comment made my day. The empathy and grace that I gave came back to me full circle!

Over the last couple of weeks in our Intentional Leadership series, we have looked at empathy and emotional intelligence, and we talked about how to practice both in leadership and in our everyday interactions with others.

This week, we focus on the fact that in order for empathy to have the ripple effect it is capable of, it not only has to be given, it also needs to be received and acknowledged.

Here are some questions for you to reflect on this week:

· How are you practicing empathy and making a change for others?

· In what ways do you notice empathy being practiced by those around you?

· Do you receive empathy with gratitude?

· How do you acknowledge it?

· How does the ripple effect of empathy come back to you in leadership and in your personal life?

Join us next week for another installment of Intentional Leadership.

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