Empathy is the ability to experience and relate to the motives, emotions or experience of others. It’s your ability to step into someone else’s shoes, be aware of their feelings and understand their needs.According to Dr. Daniel Goleman, it is one of the five key components of EQ (emotional intelligence) and the one that is most critical in developing and retaining employees.
People who score low on empathy are often concerned about their own needs. When you are disrespectful, interruptive, bullying, making fun of others or not listening to others you are being just the opposite of empathetic.
To be empathetic, you have to think beyond yourself and your own concerns. Workplace is a collection of different individuals with different backgrounds and perspectives. Being empathetic helps you to connect better with people, build trust and work on collective growth.
Empathy is a skill that can be developed. When you develop an ability to begin a conversation with others and asking about their well being, you are learning to develop empathy. Here are few tips to develop empathetic skills at work:
Laurence Stone quotes,“Respect for ourselves guides our morals;respect for others guides our manners.” Respect is one of mankind’s most noble sentiments.You owe everyone a basic level of respect for being a fellow human being. It is also true that the highest levels of respect are always earned – never given. When you demonstrate respect for others, you give value to their being and ideals; in addition, you’ll make someone feel good.
Be a good listener:
A sign of empathy and respect towards another human being, is listening to others and feeling what others feel when they express their deep concerns. It begins with self-awareness.
Respect others point of view:
A sign of respect is listening to another’s point of view – regardless of whether we agree with them or not. You are empathetic when you acknowledge others point of view and perspectives. You develop this by learning to understand others. There will be healthy debate and collective decision-making is encouraged when everyone’s point of view is acknowledged.
Understand others – step into their shoes to know about them:
Leadership guru John C Maxwell says, “You don’t really know someone until you know what makes them laugh, what makes them cry, and what makes them dream”.
Understanding others develop deeper bonding between teams and people will begin to act with more trust and transparency. This can lead to better communication and greater creativity and innovation between team members.
Where there is empathy in workplace, people are given with more priority than just rules and regulations. This can lead to improved communication, greater creativity and innovation, collaborative teams and better camaraderie between different departments or divisions. The general understanding will be that each person is important as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle; all roles are respected without being judged as superior or inferior. Overall empathy requires three things: listening, openness and understanding.