Psychologist Paul Ekman highlighted that we have six basic emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger and surprise. Empathy is the ability to recognize and respond to these emotions in others.
Recent Gallup research indicates that the average U.S. employee is not only unengaged at work, but half of U.S. employees are actively searching for new jobs. To reduce the loss of employees building empathetic organization could be one-of the ways. Scientist says, that empathy can be learned! Higher levels of empathy lead to improved performance across many job spheres including healthcare, sales, management and leadership. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella urged his executives to read a book on how to collaborate empathically to be a leader in the business. To highlight the figures, Nadella is credited with increasing the company’s market value by $250 billion in four years, which many partially attribute to his empathetic attitude and focus on company culture as much as on technology.
Research shows there are two interesting components to empathy a) developing curiosity about others and b) practicing active listening to improve our workplace interactions. Let’s see how to exhibit empathy on one-on-one level at work:
Steps to developing curiosity in difficult situations like dealing with angersome colleague or customer-
1) First, be mindful. Ensure yourself that you are here to help the situation—-why is this person behaving in dysfunctional way?
2) Second, let the person know. Communicate this to the person verbally and non-verbally that you understand why he is behaving in certain way and you need more information to act on it to resolve.
3) Third, pick up relevant information. Exhibit understanding from the conversation and acknowledge to make them feel heard and comprehended. Using sentences like: I hear you…I have been in the same situations in past…could you tell me little more about it?
Though you are using empathy as a strategy, but it is truly reflecting a good personality trait in you as a person. As and as you start receiving positive results, I am sure you would like to be more empathetic with people. Empathy, compassion, forgiveness is all present in human behavior already, it is just a matter of giving it attention to shine it through you to make it a part of social behavior.
Empathy is a key component of emotional intelligence!
Managers who received higher empathy scores from their subordinates received higher performance scores and appreciation from their supervisors.
Steps to developing active listening in difficult situations-
Active listening involves listening wholeheartedly to a message, without judgment, to hear the totality of the communication. Carl R. Rogers and Richard E. Farson in Communicating in Business Today give three suggestions for active listening.
1) First, listen for total meaning. Each message comprises two components: the objective content (what is said) and the subjective feeling underlying the content (what is not said). Active listening involves paying attention to both components.
2) Second, active listening involves acknowledging and responding for example: I really want to hear. Am I correct in my understanding? Let me share more details on what would be the best thing to do.”
3) Third, active listening involves taking in all informational cues, both verbal and nonverbal. For example, it is important to notice things like any uneasiness in the conversation, pitch, loudness, facial expressions, body posture, hand movements, eye movements, breathing and so on.
It is most important to practice empathy in today’s environment of multi-taskers and higher achievers. Empathy in the workplace should improve as an absence of it creates issues with employee engagement and impression building. So, the mantra is to practice empathy.