Empathy is an attribute that connects people in the most emotive way possible. It might seem like it's a useful quality only for personal relationships, but it's also essential in business. By developing an empathic approach, you improve your people skills which will be very helpful for developing strong leadership skills and great teamwork capabilities.
Why Become More Empathic
- You will be able to treat the people you care about how they'd like to be treated
- You will recognize the needs of others without them having to tell you
- You will be able to more accurately predict the reactions of people you interact with
- You will understand the perception of your words and behaviors to others
- You will be able to understand the unspoken parts of communications
- You will learn how to motivate the people around you
- You will have a better understanding of how the people around you feel
- You will read people easily, therefore always know when they're lying
- You will more adequately persuade others of your viewpoint
- You will be aware of the needs of your customers at work
- You will have less difficulty dealing with relational conflicts at home and at work.
- You will see through your perspective and the perspectives of those around you
- You will find it easier to deal with the negativity of others
Step One: Listen
When you show that you listen carefully when someone speaks, people will be drawn to you and more open. Especially in a heated conversation or a conflict, people tend to start speaking before the other person finishes. In other cases, they don't cut off the person, but think of a response while the other person is still speaking, without even listening to what the other person has to say.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.
Listen to the tone of voice used, keep an eye on the body language that is used and how the other person seems to feel. Listen to what the other person is communicating; ask follow up questions to have a better understanding before you answer with your opinion. As you move your focus to completely listening what the person is saying, your active listening skills increase.
Step Two: Put Yourself in the Other Person’s Shoes
In any type of situation, take the time to put your viewpoint aside and see the situation from the other person's perspective. The other person might not be unreasonable, stubborn or even wrong, and you might not be either. It's just a matter of understanding what makes them disagree. What are the other person's valid arguments against your point of view? Can you agree that from their side, what seems positive to you might be negative to them? Are your ways exacerbating the situation or calming it?
Taking the time to be in the other person's shoes can open your eyes on what they feel and can reduce your frustration and anxiety. When you acknowledge why the other person feels a certain type of way, you can accept that people have different opinions from your own, and may have good reasons for those opinions
Step Three: Understand What the Other Person Wants
Giving someone a gift that would be practical for you but isn't practical for them is kind of illogical. Similar situations may occur in your day to day live without noticing. Be understanding of what others want. In a conflict for example, the simplest and most direct way to understand the other person is letting them explain their position. Ask what the other person would like, what would make them feel better. Exhibiting that you're interested in what the other person thinks shows them that you want to compromise. Prepare to change the direction of your thoughts in order to cooperate with the other person. When you understand others, they'll want to understand you. Keep in mind that each person has a different life and work experience that led them to having different perspectives.
Habits That Can Increase Your Empathy
- Treat people as being important
- Open up
- Share yourself with loved ones
- Offer physical affection
- Use your imagination
- Be curious about strangers
- Read fiction
- Notice what's going on around you
- Withhold judgement
- Offer help
The Important Take Away
Showing that you're interested in how others feel will make you appear more approachable and caring. Empathy is also the key to business success. Being able to see the world from different perspectives is a skill that will help you a lot in any type of situation.
To see if you are an empathic person click here to take an empathy quiz.