Many people are familiar with the saying, ‘before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.’ This saying acts as a reminder to practice empathy – something we might lack in our personal and professional lives.
Empathy is a powerful emotion. It allows us to relate to others and build trust, intimacy, and belonging. It also strengthens connections while improving cooperation and communication. With that in mind, it’s not a universal response, but given its value in the workplace, those without an empathetic approach to life may see the value in learning more about it for personal and professional gain.Read on to learn how.
Improve Your Listening Skills
One simple thing can play a significant part in evoking empathy for others is the ability to listen. When a coworker, employee, or friend comes to you with their concerns, set everything aside just to hear them out. Pay attention to their voice and the emotion behind it. Focus on what they are saying, not how you intend to respond to what they say.
Being patient and understanding with people during a simple conversation can be a stepping stone to becoming a more empathetic person.
Make Use of Technology
Technology is a wonderful thing. It has allowed us to connect with the world and experience life in a new way. In recent years, virtual reality technology has proved itself as a critical player in learning about empathy. Therefore, virtual reality training for you and your team may have more of an impact in your workplace than you may think.
A 2013 Stanford University study showed that VR demonstrating a disability helped increase empathy and even impacted future behavior. Those who were virtually able to walk in someone else’s shoes had a great understanding of their path in life and made adjustments to their actions accordingly. Virtual reality is even playing a part in the medical field, with VR training being offered to healthcare professionals to treat patients during psychological therapy.
You might think that to be an effective leader in a place of business, or to be seen as a strong employee or person, you need to be unshakeable. However, vulnerability is not a weakness. It can open the doors wide open for you to feel empathy for others and vice versa. Share your challenges and fears, and you may benefit from improved communication and connection. It might be a challenge, but this emotional intelligence skill allows us to better connect with those around us.
How well do you really know your colleagues or employees? You might know the position they hold in your business, but do you know them as people? If you are to develop empathy to benefit yourself and others, ask questions.
Simple questions like, ‘what did you do this weekend?’ and ‘are you okay?’ can present opportunities for empathy, understanding, and connection. Once you start, several benefits may follow, like improved communication and better work relationships.
Empathy may not be a universal response, but it can be a learned one. The more empathetic you are, the more engaging and communicative you can be. Work on your listening skills, use technology, and don’t be afraid to ask questions while showing your vulnerability. Once learned, empathy can provide some surprising benefits in your personal and professional life.