With just a few simple actions you can help build stronger connections, foster a culture of honesty and openness, and make a real difference to the emotional well-being of your colleagues.
Empathy, or the ability to understand other people’s emotions, is an important skill in the workplace. When you can see things from someone else’s perspective, it becomes easier to resolve conflicts, improve productivity, and improve relationships with co-workers, clients, and customers.
Here are some ways you can practice empathy at work:
- Don’t just listen, pay attention to non-verbal cues as well. When someone is talking, use your eyes and ears to understand the message. Pay attention to their tone and body language. Observe how they are saying things – not just what they are saying.
- Keep an open mind. One of the first steps to developing empathy is to let go of your own assumptions/beliefs and consider the other person’s perspectives. Listen respectfully and try to see where they are coming from. Don’t debate right away; instead, invite the person to describe their situation more and ask them for their suggestions on how the issue can be resolved.
- Be curious about other people’s lives and interests. Don’t just put yourself in another person’s shoes – instead, reach out and try on as many shoes as you can. As you broaden your knowledge, you will come to understand that just because someone else’s life is different from yours does not mean they are lesser than you.
- Take care of your own mental health. If you cannot manage your own emotions and are constantly stressed or on edge, it will be difficult for you to understand what others are going through.
- Display compassion. When someone is in trouble or confused, lend a hand. When a colleague is sad, offer a shoulder to cry on. And when someone is worried, give your full attention and listen without judgement. All these things are examples of showing empathy.
- Show gratitude. When we are more thankful to each other, we also become kinder and more tolerant individuals. Showing gratitude can be as simple as gifting your coworkers with snacks or praising them publicly for a job well done.
Practice these skills often to develop your empathy. When you take an interest in what others think, feel, and experience, you’ll develop a reputation for being caring, trustworthy and approachable — and be a great asset to your team and your organization.