Unless you’ve been fortunate enough to receive a significant inheritance, you’ll likely have to do some kind of work to support yourself financially, what with the need to remain clothed, fed, housed, and all.
Once employed, people often find that workplaces are strange areas to navigate, what with interpersonal connections, office politics, unspoken expectations, and the like.
But in all of these situations, empaths have a noted advantage: you’re able to pick up on subtle cues that others don’t, and can thus sidestep awkwardness, and leap toward career success.
Even the empaths who are self-employed and/or work from home can draw upon these innate talents to get ahead, as energy can generally be picked up on from a distance, and intuition works wherever you are.
Whether you work from home or in a busy office, you can draw upon a number of your unique empathic abilities in order to succeed and progress in your career.
First And Foremost, Choose A Career You Honestly Love
Many people end up in careers that they don’t really like, but are good at.
This often happens when they follow the advice of parents, guidance counselors, etc. and draw upon a particular skill set they have, rather than what’s in their hearts.
The wrong work environment can either drain you or put you in a state of hyper-stimulation, whereas the right one can allow you to thrive.
Even those career paths that appeal to you the most can be damaging if you end up in the wrong environment.
As an example, an empath who has always dreamt of being a nurse might burn out and have a breakdown if they have to work in a busy emergency room, since it’s a high-stress environment with lots of alarms, sirens, and sensory overload.
That same empath might thrive in an elderly care facility or hospice environment instead, since they’d be able to put all their focus into caring for their patients, but in a calm, quiet environment.
Follow Your Instincts!
Have you ever given a presentation or hosted a meeting and felt like things didn’t go quite “right”?
It’s likely because you were tuned into how other participants were feeling, but you might not have really understood their reactions at the time.
The next time this happens, take a moment and allow your energy to align with that of the others involved. Do they feel stressed? Tense? BORED?
You might be talking at them too much and not engaging with them, so you can use that insight and turn the meeting around.
Ask their opinions, open the table to various ideas, and allow communication to flow between respected peers.
This will have a number of different positive effects: not only will your coworkers (and superiors) think highly of you because of how well the meeting went, you’ll also avoid the “they don’t listen to me!” feeling.
This usually happens when people aren’t engaged properly, and when they don’t feel valued.
As an empath, you have the rare ability to make people feel heard, seen, AND felt, so when it comes time for your performance review, you know you’ll earn gold stars across the board.
This is also a good rule to follow if you’re self-employed. Since you’re entirely responsible for your own success (or lack thereof), you can follow your intuition and reach out to people at what you feel is the right time.
This might be anything from an eye-catching email introduction to a brilliant-yet-unorthodox graphic design idea for one of your clients.
Ideal Leadership Abilities
The abilities that many empaths share, such as intuition, the desire for collaboration, compassion, and appreciation of fairness, are “soft” skills ideal for those in leadership positions.
Should you find yourself in the role of manager (even project manager or supervisor), instead of being a hard-assed boss who is uncompromising and rules with an iron fist, you’ll be the amazing leader who governs with gentleness and a supportive nature.
You understand that the people who work for you are human beings who will screw up on occasion, have family/personal issues that may spill into work hours, and who also need to be valued for their contributions.
You’ll intuit when they need some one-on-one time, trust them to work independently, and encourage them when they might be feeling down.
A boss like this earns a startling amount of loyalty from their employees, who will in turn give 110 percent of their energy back, because they feel respected and valued by you.
You may deal with a fair amount of hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, but have the heart of a lion and a drive to succeed.
This can be a difficult area to navigate, as a workplace environment full of jarring noises and constant chatter may not be great for your sanity, but you also need to be challenged and engaged or you’ll pass out from boredom.
It’s a good idea to think about the things you enjoy doing the most, and then figure out how you can best work within these fields to maximize both your Alpha and empathic qualities.
If you’re a natural at making connections, and/or want to put your talents toward changing the world for the better, consider a supportive role in politics or as an event manager.
You can help put everything into place for events and such to happen, but then remove yourself from the maelstrom so you’re not overwhelmed by sound, light, or throngs of people.
I’m writing this from experience, as I worked as a music journalist for several years: it was an ideal situation for me, because I could attend concerts and interview musicians when my energy levels were high.
Then, during the days of quiet recovery afterwards, I could write up the reviews and interviews from the comfort of my home office. Perfect balance.
Whatever your strength is, and whatever makes you happiest when you’re doing it, follow your bliss.
You can always find ways to shield yourself from the onslaught, be that in a private office space at work or by donning a pair of headphones and cranking up the volume on some upbeat tunes.
This will allow you to put all your energy toward succeeding on your own terms, in your own way.
One final note: if you do end up working in an office, as an empath, you need to be able to shield yourself against negative energy, especially if there are narcissists and sociopaths working alongside you.
They’ll be able to hone in on your empathic abilities and try to either take advantage of you, or manipulate you to their own ends.
As difficult and disheartening as it can be to keep the shield wall up while you’re trying to get work done, it’s also for your own well-being and protection.
Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.