In my over 20 years of going into different companies around the world and working with their teams, EMPATHY is the one trait/skill that is misunderstood and therefore NOT USED or AVOIDED!
I'm going to try to demystify empathy: Empathy is simply acknowledging (not agreeing, judging or sympathizing) the EMOTION of the other person(s). -If paraphrasing is acknowledging the FACTS. -EMPATHY is acknowledging the emotion(s). If like me, you're slightly uncomfortable saying: "I see you're frustrated" Try commenting on the emotion of the situation rather than the person. "It sounds like IT (situation) was frustrating" (or whatever feels genuine for you to say at that moment- yucky, not good, sucks, ugh ...)
Of course, LISTENING and NOT solving is also a form of empathy.
The 3 payoffs of using empathy:
1. Shifts the conversation-it's a turning point- true collaboration begins
2.Builds your ability to be more aware, therefore being more present.
3. You show real and genuine interest, you are making that other person feel safe and more open to sharing.