Checking In: Empathy Inside and Out

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  • by Dominique Irvin

“I believe in music that finds you when you need it most. That perfect song that comes into your life and moves you in a new direction, or holds you still for a while. That’s a special kind of connection that can only be felt through music.” - Topher Kearby

When was the last time you checked in with yourself? As researchers we spend a lot of time trying to connect with consumers on a human-to-human level. Personally, we put tons of effort into connecting with the people in our lives, but how much time do we spend trying to connect with ourselves? I’d say sometimes, not nearly enough.

I try to be intentional about reflecting and having moments with myself. And when I take those moments to check in with myself and find that I’m feeling sad, confused, a tad wound up and want to relax, or just plain tired and realize I just need a break: there’s a playlist for that. Music is one of the ways I process and practice empathy with myself. 

Empathy is kind of our thing here at SEEK. You can’t throw a rock without hitting at least 10 empathic insights at any given time. We train our team as well as our clients on how to empathically connect with others through our A.D.R.O. process. In reviewing that process recently I realized that I had already been using that process on myself for years, through music. 

In those check-in moments, I acknowledge that there’s a distinct emotion or issue that I’ve been neglecting that makes me feel apart from myself. Then, I decide to connect with that emotion and work through it instead of ignoring it. The playlist comes next. I have worked out so many tough moments in my life, big and small, through music. If I’m down, I pull up my Happy playlist; “Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah) by Andy Grammar has never failed to pick me up. When I feel stuck or angry, it’s time for a complete reboot. I put the Dance Party playlist on shuffle and shake it out. I dare you to put on “Jump in the Line” by Harry Belafonte (this is a classic!) and try to sit still. If I need to soothe my racing mind, the Slow it Down playlist works just fine. And as I start to connect with my body, I begin to reconnect to my emotions and recognize what’s been going on within myself and then I can own those emotions, how I’ve been responding to them, and figure out how to move forward. 

I believe practicing empathy with myself makes me a better researcher and person. Whether I’m picking a playlist for the workday or jamming out after hours, regularly checking in with myself and being aware of my emotions sharpens my ability to be able to do so when I’m trying to connect with a consumer. So, tell me; how do you practice empathy with yourself? Do you have a playlist or songs that move you? Do you write or meditate? Share your tips with me at DOMINIQUE@SEEKCOMPANY.COM. And if check out WWW.SEEKCOMPANY.COM to learn more about our empathic approach to research.