2-11: Find a New Perspective: Building Empathy in the Workplace Culture
Have you ever noticed how contagious emotions are? It is very clear that when someone is bursting with joy, it’s hard not to join in and share with their happiness. Just picture someone doing something they love or getting a great surprise. This can also go the opposite way. If people around you are unhappy, stressed, or even hostile, you are affected just by being in the same room or office space with them and your contentedness erodes. This is why empathy, especially in the workplace, is so important. The morale and attitude of a team can quickly be jeopardized if steps are not taken to foster a positive, supportive, and inclusive work environment.
Sometimes it may seem that the professional world leaves little room for emotions. We are humans not robots, however. While data, profits, and success are always top of mind, our emotions are always there just under the surface. They play an integral role in how effectively we work within teams. Effectively acknowledging, managing, and leveraging emotions in the workplace is an important skill to help professionals succeed and give them new perspectives.
So what exactly is empathy? Empathy is the ability to sense other people’s emotions coupled with the ability to imagine what some else might be thinking or feeling. Empathy can create a sense of compassion for others based on their situation. Empathy comes more easily to some people than others but this does not mean that it cannot be learned. Developing your empathy is a crucial part of forming strong meaningful connections with those around you and to help teams become even better together.
Here are three ways to build empathy, both on a personal and organizational level.
Grow Your EI
We all know about IQ. While EI, or emotional intelligence, may not be as well known, it plays an equally important role in business success. Before you can begin to understand the perspectives and emotions of others, you need to understand your own. Emotional intelligence is the ability to acknowledge, control, and express your emotions. Be mindful of when you feel certain emotions and how they cause you to act. In situations where an intense emotional response would be detrimental, like a heated argument during a meeting, having the emotional intelligence to notice your anger then actively bring yourself back to a more calm state helps keep the situation from getting out of hand. Improving your EI agility gives you the power to more effectively manage your own emotions and handle interpersonal relationships both in a level-headed and empathetic manner. This then helps to foster a culture that is supportive of employees and empowers them to work together better.
Try on a New Pair of Shoes
Empathy is all about seeing a situation from another’s perspective. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘walk a mile in their shoes’ and this is putting theory into practice. It is essential to be a good listener and keep an open mind during the conversation. Actively listening engages you with the situation and assists in the process of trying to understand where that person is coming from and how something made them feel. It may be very challenging sometimes, but you must try to let go of any preconceived notions you may have. Assumptions limit your ability to fully utilize your emotional intelligence and practice empathy. In regards to the culture at large, this is a key component in fostering a positive environment that celebrates diversity in all its forms. Every individual has had unique experiences and thus perceive situations differently, which is why developing your empathy is so important.
Be a Supportive Coach
Anyone can be a good coach with practice. While managers are a very common form of a coach, coaches can be anyone, professional or personal, that you trust to listen, consider, and support you the best they can. Emotional intelligence and empathy help to create positive interpersonal connections, which then may lead to individuals reaching out for guidance in this supportive atmosphere. Being a good coach means being a good listener who asks thoughtful questions to dive deeper into the conversation. If the individual is seeking advice on something they view negatively, it is imperative for the coach to bring them back to a more positive mindset. When a culture is supportive and empathetic, this naturally leads to coworkers going to each other or to their bosses for coaching, which then strengthens ties within the organization.
Productivity, loyalty, and engagement are all directly influenced by empathy, according to Businessolver’s 2017 Workplace Empathy Monitor report. Additionally, 92% of employees would be more likely to stay with a company if they empathized with their needs. It’s clear that creating a culture that prioritizes empathy not only benefits each individual, but the entire group as they use those skills to better connect and interact with one another.
Priority Bridge LLC. Is dedicated to helping organizations of all types achieve greater success by using a proprietary analytical process that increases the cultural fit of employees to an organization. Eliminate Bad Hires. For Good. Hire right the first time, every time with the right cultural fit using Priority Bridge.