3 E’s: empathy, encouragement and empowerment

I recently was talking to a small business owner about a tool that he developed for dealing with his staff and others. He calls this tool the 3 E’s: Empathy, Encouragement, and Empowerment. He makes a point at least once each day to cover each of the 3 E’s with each of the staff he encounters.
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“Correction does much, but encouragement does more”

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I recently was talking to a small business owner about a tool that he developed for dealing with his staff and others. He calls this tool the 3 E’s: Empathy, Encouragement, and Empowerment. He makes a point at least once each day to cover each of the 3 E’s with each of the staff he encounters.

Empathy is shown when we demonstrate that we understand what the other person is dealing with; their challenges, concerns and dreams. Showing empathy shows you care about them as a person, not just in what they can produce for your benefit.

Encouragement is something we all need, and in regular doses. We show it by expressing our confidence in them and their abilities. It inspires and gives hope. Encouragement can make the unpleasant more pleasant, and the challenging more viable.

Empowerment leverages empathy and encouragement and enables people to grow, to apply new skills, to be more involved, to feel more worthwhile. It makes people feel more a part of the team, and at the same time strengthens the team.

Applying the 3 E’s has a direct and positive impact on this business owner’s staff, but he has found the 3 E’s to be contagious as well; the people that receive their daily dose of empathy, encouragement and empowerment are more apt to offer the same to others with whom they come in contact.

Some application tips:

  • Be authentic. Don’t feign empathy. Don’t mislead in your encouragement. Don’t give false hope in your empowerment. Don’t run around the office hurriedly passing out 3 E’s as if you have a long check list to finish.
  • Listen. Don’t just dump your E’s and run. Capitalize on the inevitable conversations that ensue. You will learn something, and they will be validated.
  • No favorites. Make sure you offer the 3 E’s to those that you may not feel as good about. Giving those people empathy, encouragement and empowerment may be just what they need to become a favorite as well.
  • Be creative. Try to offer new input each time, for each individual. If you are sincere, this will come naturally.
  • Prepare. As information becomes available that would indicate an opportunity to be empathetic, a need for encouragement, or a time for empowerment, make a note of it and be sure use those opportunities in a timely manner.
  • It’s for everyone. Don’t forget to offer the 3 E’s to people up the corporate ladder, as well as your peers and those that report to you. Friends and family too!


© Ascent Advising 2008 (reprinted exclusively by SNEWS® with permission)

Dave Bartholomew is a principal with Ascent Advising, providing wide-ranging business advisory services to companies around the globe. His 30 years in leadership roles in the outdoor industry equip him well for coming alongside business owners and executive teams in moving their companies ever upward. His popular email newsletter, "Adages from Ascent," brings to light vital and innovative concepts for running a business. For a free subscription, and to view past issues of the newsletter, visit AscentAdvising.com and follow the link for "Adages from Ascent." Dave can be reached at Dave@AscentAdvising.com or 206-669-7055.

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