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An Insight on Empathy From a Morning Café Interaction

“Leaders motivate others to act to gain external incentives. Those who lead inspire others to act—we follow them not because we have to, but because we want to. Those who lead start with why.” — Simon Sinek

I’m really enjoying this. I’m currently sitting in a café on a Saturday morning, and I find that the ambient noise really complements my performance and productivity.
When I first walked up to the counter, I was expecting the typical, “What can I get for you today?” But instead, they leaned to the side of the counter—removing the physical barrier between us—and then proceeded to say:
Person: Hi! How are you doing?
I was taken aback—not because of the question, but in the way they immersed themselves in the interaction. Good sales skills? Good marketing skills? I don’t know, but it felt real. I responded with the typical:
Me: Hi! I’m good, how are you?
At this point, I’m intrigued and I’m wondering why they’re so open.
Person: Good! I love the colour of your jacket.
Me: Oh, thank you! It does bring some brightness.
Here’s some context:
Context: My bright red jacket.
Context: My bright red jacket.
We went on for a bit, and then they eventually asked for my name. But there was something different with this interaction, because I felt like I had to ask for their name too (and I did), even though I didn’t necessarily need it.
This interaction highlights an important factor—that when understood—can teach us how to better lead and inspire:
We all have a narcissistic side to ourselves—this is why someone who mirrors us in a conversation makes us feel more comfortable, heard, and seen. We should understand this factor for two main reasons:
i) To be wary of those who use this factor to exploit and manipulate others, whether subconsciously or consciously.
ii) To practice empathy to connect so that we can inspire those around us.
One of the most powerful insights I’m learning about leadership is what it means to be a leader. As Simon Sinek puts it, those who lead inspire others to believe in their own vision. Those who lead help others understand their own strengths and value to themselves.
Here’s to exploring how to feel, connect, and inspire.
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Reema AlYousef

Exploring the stories of human emotion

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