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Empathy: The Key to Successful Communication In the Workplace

Derin Bilgin

Derin Bilgin

13 Sep 2022

A heartwarming image showcasing a family, their dog, and a playful cat. Reflects empathy, a marathon of love, and effective communication.

"Empathy is essential" you heart it, we heart it. Since our baby years, with our family education, we have been taught that empathy is of utmost importance. Mainly because with empathy, we can understand people around us. It is a powerful and essential ability in your educational, corporate, and personal lives. To put it briefly, it is necessary just about everywhere you connect with people. But do you know how to implement empathy in your life or workplace?

Let's start by defining the term. Empathy is the ability to recognize and understand the emotions, feelings, experiences, and perspectives of other people around us — the ability to see the world from their viewpoint. So, empathizing is essential while building a connection with your audience, team, class, or friends and family.

"Learning to stand in somebody else's shoes to see through their eyes, that's how peace begins. And it's up to you to make that happen," said Barack Obama on April 7, 2009, at Tophane Cultural Center, Istanbul, Turkey while he was giving a speech at a student roundtable. As he said, empathy could be a starting point for peace, and it will be regardless of the environment. You can efficiently utilize empathy with some tips and steps at your workplace.

Why is empathy important in the workplace?

Everyone is unique in their ways, such as their physical appearance, thoughts, values, etc. To create authentic and valuable communication with anyone around you, you need to try to understand them by making empathy and trying to be in their shoes. According to the Business Solver 2021 State of Workplace Empathy study, more than 90% of employees, HR professionals, and CEOs said that empathy is essential, 72% of employees believe that empathy drives employee motivation, and 84% of CEOs believe that empathy drives better business outcomes. So, this is not just about the creative communication around you in the workplace; it is about improving yourself as a co-worker, increasing engagement, and empowering your business.

Ways to develop empathy

It is natural to struggle to show empathy at first, but you can overcome this step by step. Failing is the most natural thing ever; as long as you fall forward and don't get overwhelmed, stop trying. Next, we will give some tips to be more empathetic.

1. Listen actively

Being an active listener is the most critical topic to being an empathetic person. Listening is a vital part of communication. It is where you learn the unique ways of the person in front of you. Active listening encourages openness and honesty. By actively listening, you will be able to understand the perspective of other people and focus on the speaker's needs.

2. Ask questions

Asking questions is not just for interrogating the person you are communicating with. Since empathy is about trying to understand a different perspective, it is essential to understand the mindset correctly. It isn't always easy and accurate to imagine a person's feelings. You may not like the answers to your questions, but you will need more information to be empathetic. Asking questions leads to honest communication between you and others. The more questions you ask, the better you will get real meaning from the answer. And don't forget, there are no wrong questions.

3. Be aware of different perspectives

Everyone is unique. Every difference equates to different perspectives. For example, this could be when your team disagrees with the presentation title or social activity contrary to their culture. Once you are aware of the discomfort, disagreement, or any other kind of different perspective than yours, you will be able to respond in a better manner. Because now, you will have accepted that there could be different perspectives, and you are at peace with them.

4. Avoid assumptions, judgments, and biases

Everyone could have their private thoughts - it is normal. But, to prevent these thoughts from misleading or hurting communication, a person should think carefully before speaking. Start the conversation with a clean mind. Don't assume the worst of the situation, don't let your judgments get in the way of your words, or don't start a conversation with biases. They could misguide the conversation and affect your ability to empathize.

5. Appreciate other's feelings

We may not always be at our best - it is a part of being human. To empathize accurately, remember that this can happen to anyone, and it's normal. Try to empathize with their feelings even if you can't fully understand or agree with others' perspectives. Think about how their day might have been going. Is it possible that they are stressed out? Can everyone always handle stress well? Try to communicate with them with kindness and respect.

6. Practice empathy regularly

Empathy is a skill that can be developed by working on it - regularly. If you don't work on it, it will become dull. That's why you can spread this development process over your whole life, instead of just thinking about it once and understanding its importance, developing it, and letting it go. Likewise, you can practice empathy by applying the tips we provide daily.

Empathy is a marathon.

Empathy can fail in the workplace. Even though we know the term from childhood, it isn't easy to implement. The best we can do is keep practicing. We are human; most of the time, we focus on ourselves rather than the person we communicate with. We don't realize what they are doing or saying or if they understand the real emotion behind the words that want to be seen. Some common mistakes in communication affect empathy badly, like making a hurtful joke or using feedback just for negative examples.

Empathy sees a problem and tries to find a solution. It requires action. It does not happen overnight. You need to practice regularly to build foundations of empathy in your workplace. It takes time and energy to be implemented by the company or person. Empathy should be the number one priority of companies and people. It is one of the most critical factors in organizational success. Yet, it is also one of the easiest changes to get started improving on (even today)! . But, remember, one person can change the world. So, don't wait for others or your tops. You can change your point of view and adapt empathy to your co-workers, your team, or even your company.

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