What roles do empathy play in harmonious relationships for higher performance and healthy relationships? Empathy has an essential role in social relationships. When you are empathetic, you will have an understanding of another person’s feelings, thinking from their point of view and not your own. Not just to be sympathetic by cognitively understand another’s point of view but to engage emotions for an empathetic understanding of a topic.
Is empathy good for business? Often business is portrayed as it is hard and tough who survive and make it. There is plenty of research and evidence to support that companies who are high on empathy are also top-performing companies. Tapping into and understanding stakeholders on different levels support staff engagement and customer sales and satisfaction.
So how do we do this, many companies will focus on hiring the most qualified and brightest and this was also a strategy used by Google they, however, started to research into what makes a high performing team. What they found was that it wasn’t the IQ scores of the team but the teams which showed a range of soft skills including; Equality, generosity, curiosity towards others ideas, empathy and emotional intelligence. It was summarized as the term psychological safety.
How do we start to develop more psychologically safe and empathetic environments around us? Well first we will have to want to do it or we will come across as fake and lacking authenticity. We need to develop trust and empathy for everyone around us and to be a role model to enable a culture where psychological safety can grow.
Can we be too empathetic? Can it be a double-edged sword? If in an environment where there is a lack of psychological safety and a person keeps being empathetic in an environment where it is little given. (See also the article on Give and Take) This person can eventually result in suffering from Compassion fatigue and or eventually burnout.
What can be done? If you are working in a culture that is causing you compassion fatigue or burnout it is important to exercise empathy towards yourself and self-care.
If you are facing uncertainty as an individual, organization or community do your best to be empathetic curious and understanding of other's needs. Even if you do not necessarily agree with their viewpoint. Listen to understand not to judge or criticize.
Like many individuals, businesses and communities in China are currently facing isolation, stress and uncertainty unite around empathy. Many great acts around China have already been shared. Communities uniting and supporting each other in a crisis show the core of humanity which is compassion. However, survival is strongest so be empathetic to your employees, employers, landlords, teachers, and children. Everyone is feeling something and sometimes fear is expressed as anger so don’t judge too fast. How can you listen empathically to others?
Please watch before reading on
"Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant."
Henry David Thoreau
How do we practice Empathetic listening?
What blocks Empathetic listening:
· Downplaying: Ohh don’t fuss about it. I am sure it isn’t that bad.
· Denial: There is nothing to be upset about. Everything is OK.
· Reasoning: Don’t fuss over it. Can’t you see they didn’t try to hurt you?
· The expectation: You should have known better.
· Put down: Don’t be silly
· Diagnosing: You are overreacting and being too sensitive
What supports Empathetic listening:
· It is not about you
· Paraphrase to check for understanding
· Listen to understand
· Put judgments and your agenda aside
· Listen with all of your senses
· Be interested
· Turn off and remove distractions
Bring awareness of the level of empathy you are using when communicating with others. Grow more awareness as you are communicating online, with your colleagues and community. Grow empathy and self-care for yourself and everyone around you, this is a bug worth catching to support higher performance.
Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
Be kind, Always