Why Empathy at Work is So Important
Empathy in the workplace is more important than ever. Let's face it ya'll - people are generally not okay. Research shows that empathy at work can result in better employee retention, decreased stress, and improved health. In fact, Businessolver says that 96% of employees say that it's important for their company to show empathy and that it is the most critical leadership driver.
What Empathy Is
Through empathy, we put ourselves in the place of others without judgment or bias and try to understand their unique life experiences. It is essentially feeling with others! It differs from sympathy which is essentially the heightened awareness of another person's plight as something to be alleviated.
A study into empathy at Cambridge University – the largest of its kind ever conducted – found that only bout 10% of our empathy can be attributed to our genes. It’s very much down to how we’re raised and our life experiences. The good news is that it can be learned!
Use the EMPATHY Framework to Elevate Your Empathy!
I have put together the Framework below to help you elevate your personal empathy. Let's walk through each of the steps.
Empathy for yourself
To show empathy to others, you must have empathy for yourself.
Give yourself a break if you fail, miss a deadline, or make a mistake
Have empathy for yourself after a setback
Be kind to and affirm yourself
Make an effort to really get to know others
Really get to know others, especially those that are different from you. Ask them to coffee or lunch. Be curious and ask lots of open-ended questions.
To be empathetic, you need to be willing to be vulnerable. Own your mistakes and admit you aren't perfect. This gives others permission to do the same.
Always seek to understand others
Stephen Covey said, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Make a good faith effort to understand the perspectives of others. Resist the urge to judge and ask open-ended, non-confrontational questions to increase your understanding.
Take time to listen
We know what to do to really listen to others - we just don't usually do it! The reality is that we typically listen to respond rather than really listening to understand. Give the other person your undivided attention by tuning out distractions, using your body language, asking follow-up questions, paraphrasing, and resisting the urge to formulate your response while listening.
Have an attitude of gratitude
Try to think positively and focus on what you are grateful for. And regularly thank others and show them that you appreciate and value them. It will make them feel good - and it will make you feel good too!