The Power of Empathy Why It May Be the Key to Better Employee Engagement
“I can hear how upset you are.” “Tell me what’s going on.” “I respect your efforts.” “I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad experience. I’d like to try and help.” “I can completely understand. I can imagine how frustrating that must be.”
The internet was ablaze recently over a new article The Importance of Empathy in Our Services-Centric, People-Oriented Economy
. We counted no less than six LinkedIn groups, several twitter feeds and the vaulted Wall Street Journal all touting the importance of empathy. And we wholeheartedly agree – empathy is a skill that is vital to succeed in our technology driven world and business leaders should work in developing it. Certainly, the numbers agree. According to an unpublished
survey of university graduates over the past 10 years who now occupy professional positions, empathy is most lacking among middle managers and senior executives: the very people who need it most because their actions affect such large numbers of people. Communication has evolved, and so should our communicational skills; not only with our employees, but with all stakeholders. But empathy
is not an off/on switch or something that can be conjured on demand. It’s a much needed management trait that needs frequent and regular cultivating. So, call this Empathy 101 and watch how this “soft skill” can open the doors to better employee engagement.
- Walk in their Shoes. Take a minute, a full 60 seconds and think about this. Put aside your viewpoint, and try to see things from the other person’s point of view. Walk a mile in their shoes.
- Validate their Walk. Once you’ve envisioned their walk, acknowledge it. Acknowledgement does not always equal agreement, but it does give them validation. And that’s a very valuable gift. Learn to accept that people have different opinions from your own.
- Acknowledge YOUR Walk. Be honest in your evaluation. Think about your motives. Are you more concerned with getting your way, winning, or being right? Or, is your priority to find a solution, build relationships, and accept others? Without an open mind and attitude, you probably won’t have enough room for empathy.
- Prick up your Ears. We wrote an entire blog on the art of conversation and how to be good listener. It’s that crucial. Show interest, ask questions, let them speak without interruption, embrace the differences, don’t argue and be positive.
- WWTD (What would THEY do?) This is probably the simplest, and most direct, way to understand the other person. However, it’s probably the least used way to develop empathy. Well, you know we’ll say that you need to start with a POPin session. Because, when in doubt, ask them. Ask them what they would do.