Ask an Empath:  Why Is my Empathic Boss So Wishy-Washy?

Question:  My employer made us take personality tests last week.  The test claimed I have an empathic boss (his test).  Is this why he is so wishy-washy?


Very possible.   Almost everyone in the corporate world has heard about that boss who makes decisions based on the last person in his office, even though he’s given approval or tentative approval to several different opinions throughout the day.     An empathic boss can easily hear the argument for a certain path forward and earnestly agree with what has been presented.  An hour later, a different opinion is presented–sometimes an opposite opinion–and the boss agrees earnestly with it as well, no matter how different from the opinion presented earlier.

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What’s happening is that the boss is identifying strongly–too strongly–with each person who romps into his office with a strong opinion and strong emotions about an issue.   The emotions of the presenter become the emotions of the boss, and the decisions seem absolutely right if he makes them in the moment where he is still identifying with the  presenter.

For myself, as an empathic boss, I know that there are certain areas where I have trouble maintaining boundaries (not telling what!) but I’ve come up with ways to take my emotions and the emotions of those around me out of the mix in making my decision.   Occasionally, I’ll find myself strongly swayed on a path forward, and if I can simply break away to walk 10 minutes over to the Post Office and back, the swirl of someone else’s emotions have abated and I can make a decision with a clear head and no empathic influence.   Other times, I need more time to be “out of the energy” of the person presenting a particular idea to me for approval.   I’ll plan a long walk after work, sleep on it, and then have a clear decision in the morning, again unmuddled by the emotions of the person so wanting me to approve the idea.  It’s not that I don’t have strong opinions of my own–the problem areas for me are when I don’t have a strong opinion or don’t particularly care which path forward I take…but others do.