Employees (professionals specifically) are no longer considered to be self-interested humans; in fact, they are neurologically concerned to feel empathy.
Why, then, is being empathetic so important? To empathize with someone involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, and to feel, to a lesser extent, the same emotions that they are. In this sense, being empathetic can certainly help those who you are empathizing with. BUT, it can also bring you success in your personal and occupational life.
1) In Academic Achievement
Arguably, being actively empathetic can improve cognitive development and thus academic abilities – but to be honest, the evidence of a correlation between student empathy levels and their academic achievements seems flimsy. Receiving empathetic support, on the other hand, seems to be more effective in improving academic performance.
Children who have developed secure attachment relationships through
empathetic support from their parents or guardians at a young age are
more socially competent and confident throughout their lives, are more
likely to be able to deal with setbacks productively, to engage in the
classroom and to graduate high school.
2) Pitching Your Ideas
Whether it be pitching your ideas to your team, to another company, or to a customer, trying to see the advantages and disadvantages of agreeing with you from your audience’s perspective would help you get a grasp of whatever is holding them back from embracing your proposals, and so to convince them otherwise.
3) In Customer Service
Let’s say you own a sushi restaurant. What happens when another sushi place opens up just across the street? When the products are similar in price and quality, be it in shops or restaurants, empathetic customer service can make or break a customer’s decision to pick your store over the other.
4) In Product Design
Think of Apple products – no doubt, the product designers had to envision using the product from the consumer’s point of view, so that even someone who is completely unfamiliar with the technology would find the product intuitively easy to use. This can be done by observing people’s interactions with the most current product, to see what works for them and what they find confusing.
In an interview with David Kelley, CEO, and founder of the world’s leading innovation and design firm, it was revealed that the practice of seeing the design through an empathetic lens, making products intuitive and accommodating for consumers, is key to the firm’s successful designs.
5) Boosting Fearlessness
More importantly, being an empathetic leader helps reduce fears of failure, allowing for more risk-taking, creative ventures, freer expression and exchange of ideas – all of which would improve the group’s chance for success! This is because employees and team members would understand that they wouldn’t be immediately blamed for their mistake, but rather, the manager would attempt to look at the situation from their eyes and to get to the root of the problem.
6) Making New Friends
Most obviously, being empathetic would lead to greater and more effective communication – by listening closely in order to understand and take someone else’s perspective, it would be easier to get along with another individual (or a group of people). Naturally, if empathy can help with making new friends, so can it help with developing new business connections.
7) Improve Existing Relationships
They say that empathy is the key to a good marriage – when financial responsibilities, kids, and household chores start piling up, empathetic conversations may be just what is needed to maintain emotional intimacy between a couple. Moreover, being empathetic is a fantastic way of letting your partner know of your care and support, as well as making it easier to resolve any conflicts that may arise in times of stress. Of course, this applies to any other personal relationship too – for example, isn’t it true that your best friends are the ones who listen well and just seem to “get” you?
8) Better People Management
Yes, being empathetic would make you a better manager. The rapid growth of globalization (which may lead to misunderstandings during cross-cultural communication processes) and the growing use of teams in the workplace means that being an effective manager is becoming increasingly important.
A study found that employees with a manager who had stronger inclination to take an employee’s point of view and to understand how he or she felt were less likely to report being sick, were happier after making progress towards work goals (than employees who made similar career achievements with less empathetic managers), and were more likely to feel that they were working in a climate of support and understanding, which boosts employee productivity and well being. Plus, going out of your way to understanding the hopes and dreams of others would help with finding ways to motivate your team, to retain talent, and improve company performance.
BUT what about those who argue that being ruthless is the key to success?
Some say that disregarding the needs of others for personal gain is more likely to push you to the top. There is some truth to that; after all, being a pushover isn’t going to get you anywhere. The key is to build a balance between your interests and caring for others’ interest. And you’ve understood my point, the formula to make it happen is by being empathetic.
Can you think of any more ways empathy can improve your personal and occupational life?