4 Steps Of How Empathy Creates Sports’ Winners

You may associate empathy with helping but it will make your team win too

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

There’s a link between competitive sports and a lack of deeper empathy and the funny thing is it makes teams lose!

I`ve asked myself the question for many years now:

Can empathy make you win more?

On the surface, it first seems that this is false. After all, being empathetic is about having the deep recognition, understanding, and sharing of another’s thoughts and feelings. Without much thought, it seems that being that touchy and feely with another means you have to be soft, kind, timid, and considerate of the other person’s thoughts and feelings.

On the other hand, being a competitor seems very different. Competition is all simply about being able to dominate an opponent to prove that you reach a certain goal and in so doing, they fail to achieve the same level of success.

But, empathy can aid success and make competitors into winners.

Here’s how:

  1. Empathy creates connections between people,
  2. Connections build trust,
  3. Trust creates teamwork,
  4. Teamwork solidifies a united motivation to compete and win for one another.

1. Empathy creates connections between people,

Empathy is about putting yourself in the shoes of another person. In doing so people often think that this means changing from the place of advantage that you are in so that you can see things from a more difficult viewpoint. Although this can be part of how empathy works, it is not entirely the only way it can be utilized.

Rather than looking at empathy from a sympathetic viewpoint you can also aid yourself by being empathetic. By actively trying to ‘put yourself in the shoes’ of another person it means that you can learn from that other person. In learning, you can bring that new knowledge into your life in the future.

People often get caught up and bogged down on how and what you give up in the time and through the energy that you spend being empathetic. They feel that it robs them of their ability to get ahead, stay on track, or compete in their lives throughout the same timeline when instead, the opposite is true.

Showing empathy will aid your journey to victory.

2. Connections build trust:

We trust people for many different reasons. Simply put, you may choose to trust someone because you recognize them or know that they have authority in your given field. For example, if you were to bump into your favorite movie star on the street you’d probably be more willing to talk to them than the average stranger. The same can be true of a person that presents themselves as your new boss at work. You`ll probably do as they request, simply because you feel trust is a given in that situation.

Neurologically though trust can be built from the brain chemical oxytocin. Oxytocin can be released into the brain when stress is at bay. For example, if a young woman sees a small baby she may feel good and want to interact with the baby. Of course, logically, in this example, most babies are harmless and exude joy. For the young woman, this is far from being stressful and the baby’s joy creates an upbeat feeling within her.

The same can be true in sport. For a coach or manager who witnesses a play performed to the tactical satisfaction that they wished for, they can then begin to admire their players for their successful attempts during practice. This builds the feeling of satisfaction within the coach or manager and this can reverberate back to the team in the form of the positive team talk. In turn, this instills confidence within the players that they are trusted by their leader.

Photo by Coasteering on Unsplash

3. Trust creates teamwork:

Companies’ CEOs and presidents can often be wary of trust. As trust can mean that employees need to understand the boss better, this level of exposure can be beyond the leader’s level of comfort. In so doing, this is limiting the creation and development of teamwork.

The same is true for sporting coaches and managers. Unlike companies, coaches, and managers cannot actively go out and physically compete for their organization or club. Rather they have to stand on the sideline or sit in the stands and watch as their teams’ performance unfolds. By the time the game or match has begun, the work must have been done if they are to compete to win. This is why teamwork is so important and why it is a thread of trust.

4. Teamwork solidifies a united motivation to compete and victor for one another:

When individual athletes and players feel they are truly part of a team that watches out for one another they buy into that team morale. Teamwork builds a united motivation to win. Often, even the most different personalities on teams have the most complex of relationships and this can dilute the existence of true teamwork within a locker room. However, even though personalities can be different these players can work together for a united front under the umbrella of trusting teamwork that exists.

If you were to step back into time with the same teammates under different team management or even jump forward in the future the same two characters may not get on as people. They may even despise one another. Yet, in the timeframe, that trust exists, teamwork can glue those two players together along with the harmony of the other teammates in their group.

From this standpoint, deeper human connections can promote a shared trust that enables tighter teamwork and a competitive united culture.

By competing most strongly, empathy will make you win.

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Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.

Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.

Forbes, INC. & Entrepreneur Magazines, CBS, & NBC Featured, Dr. Conor Is The World’s Leading High-Performance Neuro Socio-Psychologist & Co-Authored 4 Books

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