Do you feel overwhelmed by the issues and challenges your clients are experiencing? Do unhealthy work environments and power-over leadership practices burn you out and drain you?
If so, you might be an empath. An empath is someone with an extremely reactive neurological system which causes them to absorb both the positive and stressful energies around them.
I'm an Empath.
I didn't realize I was an empath for a long time. I started to suspect that I was when I was presenting some difficult feedback to a client about their sales practices. I had sat with over 100 focus group participants and heard story after story about the impact of the company's unethical sales practices on their lives. And I was heartbroken when the client disregarded the feedback.
Being an empath in a profession like ours, where you see the underbelly of organizations and leaders, can be hard. You have a superpower because of how well you understand the hearts and minds of everyone in your client system which can also be your Achilles heel.
The first step towards managing your empath abilities and keep them working for you is to own that you are an empath and learn how to set boundaries around your work.
All consultants and coaches need to be clear on the differences between their role and the role of their clients.
Related: Consulting vs. Leading
For an empath - you have to take this role clarity a step further and make sure you stay in your own lane and not assume responsibility that is not yours. It's for this reason that it is often emotionally easier for an empath to be an external consultant or coach vs. an internal one because you are not as personally affected by the decisions your clients make.
Even if you don't like marketing, your empathy sets you up to be very good at it. Your ability to understand your clients heart and mind is a key enabler to really good marketing copy that makes your website convert and compelling content that establishes your credibility.
If you don't feel comfortable selling your consulting and coaching services - hooray! That's a good thing. Because you shouldn't.
Initial discovery meetings are unique opportunities for you to use your empathy superpower to make your clients feel understood.
It is NOT the time to care so much about your clients that you give them everything they need for free. It's not in their best interest and it's definitely not in yours if you want to be profitable over the long-term.
You are not brought in to help a client because everything is going swimmingly well. You WILL uncover challenges, some of which can be quite troublesome.
Our work is rarely just about processes, workflow, strategy, structure or anything totally objective. It's usually the leadership and people practices that cause the challenges and these are the thinks that as an empath will break your heart.
So plan in advance that your leadership 360 has the potential to reveal some serious pain your clients have been causing others or your focus group at any moment can turn into grief groups so you can guard your heart and remain objective.
This lesson was the hardest for me to learn. In my idealism, I assumed everyone would want to do the right thing if they understood what others needed from them. Sadly, more often than not this isn't the case.
You can care...but not too much.
Because ultimately how this organization functions and creates value isn't on you. It's on those leaders.
You can take the first strike and the second but never go for the third. Once you go for the third, you have crossed your own boundaries that might take away the energy you need for your other clients.
Related Video: It's Nothing Business...It's All Personal!
I hope that these tips help validate your experience and give you strategies to stay in the game because the world needs more empath consultants and coaches like you.
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