Keeping a journal has helped great minds of our time including Albert Einstein,Virginia Wolf and Winston Churchill. Embrace their habits to achieve your greatness. This

Empathy Exercise: The Three F’s

Keeping a journal has helped great minds of our time including Albert Einstein,Virginia Wolf and Winston Churchill. Embrace their habits to achieve your greatness. This exercise is about maintaining a journal to boost your empathy.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. People who are good at it are more likable, more successful at work and happier at home. It helps you say the right things, push the right buttons and deal with difficult people.

This exercise will feel awkward in the beginning (like lifting weights in a gym). We encourage you to persist with it for at least 2 weeks: practice to point that it becomes second nature.   

Step 1: Take Notes

Bring a notebook and a pen with you everywhere you go.

During the day you are likely to have 5-50 conversations: with customers, colleagues, your children and new people you meet.

After the conversation ends, record the following:
My Observations
Finding What are the top three most important/interesting thing the person said?
Feeling (about you) How did that person respond to what you said in that conversation?
Follow-up Is there something you can do to demonstrate you were really listening?
Use the acronym F.F.F. to help you remember: Finding, Feeling, Follow-up.

This should only take you 2-5 minutes. A few bullet points will do. Here are a few examples:
Conversation with my wife that began with “How was your day?” Conversation with a friend Conversation with a friend I have not met in a while
Finding    Had Thai lunch with Christine
Busy – 15 patients with only 9 beds
Invitation to kids birthday party on the 10th
Frustrated with a supplier
Wants to switch – looking better service
Her 4 year old hugs her 14 month old too zealously
Likes her job and her boss
Not sure what she is meant to be doing in her job
Feeling (about me) Needs me to be a good listener Sort of trusts my advice, but may not act on it Likes Xempli but knows very little about it
Follow-up Text and check if she’d prefer to have something else for dinner instead of curry again Call him in a week to see if things have improved from him Send her a note of thanks, with specific info she asked for. Mention her 4y.o.
Taking notes will help you become more observant, more present, and more empathetic.
Why it works:
  • Finding: getting into the practice of taking notes after a conversation forces you to become a more active listener.
  • Feeling: when you say something, you have a unique opportunity to read the other person’s mind: do they feel the same? Do they disagree?Are they even listening? Use your powers to read their body language to help you understand them.
  • Follow-up: Sometimes the best gift isn’t an electronic device or something covered in ribbons, sometimes the best gift is the service of listening to others. By coming up with a follow-up action, you are showing through action that you really were really listening.

You can apply this exercise at home, in meetings and when talking to customers.

Overtime, you will become good at this, and you can lose the notebook. Return to this exercise once in a while to maintain top form!

It’s a small investment in time for a big reward: empathy enables you to gain the trust of others and get even better at your job.

Let us know if you find this exercise useful by leaving a message here or on Linkedin, or by sending us an email We would love to hear from you and read every email and every post.

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