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15 Productivity Hacks For Empaths

15 Productivity Hacks For Empaths

Empaths have an above average understanding of emotions and connecting with people. While logic is important, emotional understanding and skills are vital in the art of human relations. Let’s explore 15 ways that empaths reach success through their emotional skills.

1. They focus on the speaker

By focusing on a single person, empaths gain several advantages. They absorb information form the speaker and tend to remember that information better. Second, close focus affirms the other person’s value. You can develop this ability by learning listening skills. When in doubt, look directly at the speaker’s face as they speak to maintain focus.

2. They read facial expressions

Effective communication requires a combination of skills that go beyond words. Empathic people are skilled at reading facial expressions to understand if a person is angry, happy or sending other emotional signals. These facial messages are vitally important to making a true connection.

3. They read body language

How we move plays a role in communication and productivity effectiveness. Empaths know how to read hand gestures and know what to avoid in presentations. Likewise, empathic people know when and how to send signals with their body language. Using body language to communicate often saves time compared to sending emails back and forth.

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4. They manage stress through conversation

Empaths know how to manage stress in conflict situations. After all, screaming is rarely a good solution in the working world. Empaths know how to talk through their problems to manage stress at the end of a long day. They are able to have these conversations because they take the time to develop good relationships.

5. They learn faster with relationships

Learning new ideas and techniques is one of the best ways to increase your productivity. While reading books is a great idea, there are limits to what you can learn through that method. Empaths are skilled at learning how experts and other people do tasks – it is one of their ‘secret weapons’ to get ahead.

6. They tell good stories to connect with people

Empaths know that telling stories is one of the fastest ways to build a connection with people. That’s why empaths know how to deliver a good story. For example, empaths know how to create metaphors to make sure their ideas are remembered. To improve your storytelling skills, read the book “Made to Stick.”

7. They know how to manage their emotions

Managing your emotions through the day is a skill that empaths have developed to a strong degree. This high level of self-awareness means they know when to avoid difficult conversations. Likewise, empaths know when to express their emotions to make a point such as celebrating a big sale or the completion of an important project.

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8. They bring a positive attitude to work

Empaths know the merits of bringing a good attitude to their work. A good attitude means smiling at coworkers and refusing to get involved in gossip. Empaths know the world is filled with joy and suffering. That means we can choose what to focus on. For more instruction on this point, read John Maxwell’s book The Difference Maker. Attitude is an outlook we choose to adopt every day.

9. They give good compliments

Giving good compliments makes empaths more productive. It’s true! Giving good compliments improves relationships and makes it easier to ask for help later on. Giving praise and positive feedback is a valuable skill, especially for those in management jobs. Variety and detail matter in compliments – it is effective to give compliments in emails, letters and in-person.

10. They listen closely during conflict

Conflict is all around us as we strive to achieve challenging goals. For example, project management conflict includes meeting deadlines, satisfying the customer and managing the project team. To solve conflict, empaths start by listening closely and asking good questions. Many conflicts are easily solved or reduced in complexity through effective listening.

11. They know how and when to encourage people to grow

Empaths know how to build other people up at work. It is one of their best people management skills. For example, an empath knows their staff well so that they know when to encourage. Some shy professionals may prefer a 1-on-1 conversation to receive encouragement. Encouragement helps people revive and get back to work after suffering defeats or setbacks.

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Tip: Read 20 Encouraging Quotes to Level Up Your Life for inspiration.

12. They get big wins by building relationships over time

Many people date for years before they decide to get married – relationships simply need time to develop. Professional relationships also need time to develop and empaths are masters at this front. For example, empaths in sales know how to gradually build rapport with potential customers. The process is similar for networking and job hunting: empaths get to know people gradually through a series of meetings before they ask for anything.

13. They have a “dream team” to help them

Winning in life requires a team who supports you with favors, advice and resources. Empaths know how to build a network of mentors, friends and sponsors who help them reach their goals. Empaths are also giving people who avoid keeping score in their relationships. Remember, you have value to share with other people – ideas, book suggestions, introductions and more!

14. They have friends who support them

A strong social life is an asset that makes empaths productive and happy. After all, relaxation techniques have their limits. By going out with friends and relaxing, empaths come back to their work feeling refreshed and happy. In her books about successful people, author Laura Vanderkam found that successful people plan leisure activities on the weekend. Empaths take that idea up a notch by including friends and family.

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15. They reflect on their feelings

Self reflection helps empaths understanding their feelings and make sense of their day. If this practice does not come naturally to you, consider using the 5 Minute Journal. For example, you may realize that you always feel angrry after meetings with a certain client. After self reflection, you may do an 80/20 analysis and decide to part ways with that person. Constantly fighting off negative people is a major drain on your productivity.

Featured photo credit: Smiling Man/Paramjeet via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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