The Empathy Styles Model - the background

Quick Summary

  • Models of human behaviour typically come from 'full psychometrics' -tools which need to be administered by fully qualified psychologists or someone with significant training in that model
  • In business we do not have the luxury of time to administer such tools when we need a quick decision as to how to deal with an individual
  • Empathy Styles is a user-friendly and practical tool which can be used in the moment with no need for questionnaires
  • It comes from a full psychometric - the Humm Wadsworth which was developed in the USA in the 1920's
  • The Humm Wadsworth described 7 styles of temperament within which are 31 sub-components - too many to keep in mind when dealing with another person
  • Empathy Styles uses the 7 styles of the Humm Wadsworth as it's basis. If you know what to look for in someone, you can work out their strong styles within minutes of meeting them
  • In 2 days of training people can become quite skilful in understanding others and how to use the specific techniques to influence others

The Empathy Styles Model – the backgroundMost people in business are familiar with psychometrics - tools which measure personality. Typically they can only be administered by someone trained in that particular tool, in some cases a fully qualified psychologist. This has advantages in that, for recruitment, succession or personal development, the output will give a fairly detailed and unbiased opinion as to the suitability of the candidate for the role. If we have, ourselves, completed a 'full psychometric' it is likely that we have discovered that it can describe our personality with amazing accuracy. If we know this, we can then adapt our behaviour to achieve better results with other people and situations. If other people also know the results It can also help them to know how best to deal with us.

Unfortunately, people in business dealing with colleagues, customers and staff, do not always have the advantage of using a psychometric in these situations to discover the personality of the person they are working with. Often an interaction with a customer, for example, is done at some speed and with little or no notice.

What the business person needs is a quick way of making a judgement of how to approach another person. If the person is very like him or herself, their natural approach may be the best one to use as both parties understand the communication, naturally. But what if the other person has a very different personality from him or herself? Most of us have experienced either frustration or maybe even embarrassment in that situation where the other party doesn't understand what we're saying or the way that we say it.

The Empathy Approach is a very practical and user-friendly way of understanding ourselves and other people. It then gives us the tools to help us to create a 'relationship strategy' with that other person. It comes from a 'full psychometric' called the Humm Wadsworth, which is used extensively in Australia and New Zealand.

The Empathy Styles Model – the backgroundThe Humm Wadsworth was developed in the USA in the early part of the last century, at a time when the study of personality was becoming popular. An American psychologist, A. J. Rosanoff, in studying 'why we do things', first identified 5 components of personality temperament - schizophrenia, epilepsy, hysteria, cyclodia (what we now call the bi-polar condition) and the Normal (the gradual change that takes place as an individual matures and seeks to integrate into society). Later, two other psychologists, Humm and Wadsworth, took Rosanoff's work and divided cyclodia and schizophrenia into a further 2 components each - manic and depressive, and paranoia and autism - giving a total of 7. Within these 7 components are 31 sub-components and a person undertaking the modern Humm Wadsworth psychometric would be assessed on all 31 sub-components.

In the second half of the twentieth century, the rights to the Humm Wadsworth were bought by an Australian Industrial Psychologists, Chandler Macleod. Keen to produce a practical business method to the subject of 'everyday psychology', Chandler Macleod developed the Empathy Approach as a way that business people who were not trained in psychology could understand their staff and customers better and thus develop effective ways of dealing with them.

As people, we 'give ourselves away' almost all the time - in the way that we dress, what we speak about and how we do that, and how we behave. To the skilled observer these are all clues to our temperament. Thus with a knowledge of the Empathy Approach a person can, almost immediately, see/hear some of the 'strong' temperament styles of another person, and then decide how best to deal with them.

The advantage of using just 7 styles is that it is a small enough number that people can remember all 7 and yet large enough to adequately describe another's personality. It is particularly flexible as the model allows for a person to be strong in, maybe, as many as 4 of the styles. And these can be 'read' by another person very quickly, once they have been trained as to what to look for.

Generally teaching people about the 7 styles takes about 2 to 3 hours and then teaching them to see/hear them in others takes another 2 to 3 hours. In training people in Empathy, the key is for people to be able to predict the behaviour of another and to adapt their behaviour accordingly.

It is a practical approach to the complex subject of 'people' and why they behave in the way that they do.

Get in touch