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The Sideline Blog

Just as sports players come to the sideline for rest and guidance, this blog is meant to provide you some insight and guidance as you explore your Strengths journey.

Gallup®, CliftonStrengths®, and the 34 theme names of CliftonStrengths® are 
trademarks of Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.

  • Writer's pictureChad T. Ahern

Talents & Burnout: Empathy®

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

"People exceptionally talented in the Empathy theme can sense other people's feelings by imagining themselves in other's lives or situations." - Gallup CliftonStrengths Themes Quick Reference Guide -

Burnout Concerns

Your team members with Empathy® talents are essentially walking emotional radar stations. They pick up how people are feeling, even when people are trying to mask their true feelings. Most of the time, these talents can provide them with valuable insights that can help smooth tensions, help build relationships, and surface unmet needs. In times of change and increased uncertainty, people are broadcasting a wide range of emotions. Those with Empathy talents can become quickly overwhelmed by everything they are feeling and experiencing. This overload can cause those with Empathy® talents to shut down, emotionally and mentally.

Addressing Burnout

As a leader or colleague to someone with Empathy® talents, you can help alleviate this burnout pressure by,

  • Providing opportunities for people to process and productively “off-load” their emotions within the team or organization. Those with Empathy® talents are more likely to keep taking in emotional energy, just as a sponge will keep taking in water. By providing a productive outlet, you allow the "emotional sponge" to be wrung out before it becomes "emotion-logged." Even something as simple as allowing your Empathy® talented team member(s) to name the emotional "weight" in the room could prove a useful starting point.

  • Ensure people have the opportunities to engage in non- or positive-emotionally charged environments (e.g. nature, walking, etc.). We already know that having time away from our screens is beneficial, but for those with Empathy® talents it could be essential to periodically separate from others to minimize emotional intake.

  • As financially feasible, make professional mental health support available. Mental health support should be made available to everyone, but those with Empathy® talents may find professional, external assistance particularly helpful in processing or off-loading their emotional intake.

As with coaching any individual, their combined set of talent themes will effect how their Empathy® talents show up, and how to best manage them. As a beginning, next time you check-in with them, ask,

What feelings from our team should ​we be aware of today?

Gallup®, CliftonStrengths®, and the 34 theme names of CliftonStrengths® are trademarks of Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.

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