How To Show More Empathy In Your Workplace, And Why It’s Important
Positive work environments can be hard to come by, and this may be because empathy has seen a decline in recent times. Findings have revealed that college students are 40% less empathetic with other college students compared to 30 years ago.
Nevertheless, a large majority of people still value empathy and believe it is undervalued in society. This is especially true in business, with research showing that 1 in 3 people would leave their companies for a more compassionate workplace.
But how does empathy develop organically in the workplace and why is it so important?
The importance of empathy in the workplace
Empathy is the ability to recognize and understand another person’s emotions. It enables you to understand someone’s perspective and thoughts without the need to explain, judge, or fix them.
Being empathetic means using your insight to support and accept someone as they are, and is a key sign of emotional intelligence.
Empathy in the workplace is important for several reasons. It helps us to resolve conflicts effectively, boost productivity, and build positive and meaningful relationships with not only our colleagues but also our clients and customers. It can also help create a work environment of transparency and openness and a culture where people know they are going to feel safe and heard in.
Developing empathy brings about meaningful, positive returns and helps sustain successful businesses. A report by Businessolver’s Workplace Empathy Monitor showed that 92% of HR professionals note that a compassionate workplace is important for employee retention.
How to show empathy in the workplace
If showing empathy doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t fear; empathy is a skill that can be learned and honed through practice and time. It also helps if you have people in your life who you can lean on for empathy, like friends, family, or a licensed therapist which platforms like BetterHelp provides.
Try out these techniques to grow empathy in your workplace:
1. Remember that it’s not all about you. The first thing to remember when developing empathy is to understand that your feelings, thoughts, and needs are not the only ones that matter. People’s emotions and opinions are equally just as important. Moreover, when you can recognize that a person is behaving or thinking the way they are for a reason, you strengthen your capacity for compassion.
2. Be present with others. This means giving someone your full attention without constantly looking down at your phone or checking your email. Being present is the only way in which you can fully understand and empathize with what someone is going through. As well as making eye contact and being open with your body language, read their facial expressions, tone of voice, and communication style. Are they angry, disappointed, or afraid?
3. Listen without interrupting. While someone is talking, avoid interjecting with questions, or counteracting what is being said. Often, people find that simply getting something off their chest is enough to bring about a sense of ease and clarity in their situation without you having to do anything. And remember, there is no need to judge, explain, or provide unsolicited advice to someone’s problems.
4. Reflect back on what is being said. A good way to display empathy is to reflect back what you hear. An example of this is: “I hear that you feel disappointed about not getting the job promotion. That must be hard.” Then, ask the other person what it is they will do about the situation. Don’t place too much importance on your beliefs, opinions, and assumptions, and only offer your thoughts if they ask for it or give you permission to do so.
5. Show compassion in small ways. Empathy can and should be used every day in the form of a warm smile, offering encouragement when someone feels down, and remembering people’s names. Instead of referring to your colleagues as just an email address or phone extension number, be curious and take an interest in who they are and their personal lives.
Empathy is allowing space for another person’s feelings, thoughts, and needs.
By practicing the techniques above regularly, you can develop empathy and improve not only your workplace environment, but your emotional intelligence, well-being, and personal relationships. Moreover, you’ll be known as someone who is kind, approachable, and trustworthy, and that is a huge asset to any organization.
© New To HR