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The Importance of Being Empathic at Work

Updated: Dec 15, 2023


The author of this article on the importance of being empathic at work is Michaela.

Author: Michaela Resch

Date of Publication: 12/11/2022



Empathy allows you to identify and recognize other people's emotions.

Why should you be empathic at work?

Empathy is a very important quality to have in your personal life but also at work. This is because empathy allows you to identify and recognize other people’s emotions. Furthermore, if you're emphatic, you might be able to improve someone else’s mood and make them feel better. Therefore, empathy helps in building trust and safety. In addition, it could help strengthen the relationships you have with your colleagues or employees.


How to be empathic

To be empathic, it is important to pay attention to others' verbal and non-verbal communication.

A. Pay attention

What does the mimic and gestures, verbal and nonverbal signs of someone say? Does the person behave differently than usual? Does he or she talk less than usual? Is there sadness or anger hiding between their sentences?


Listen to what the person is saying to you or other people and notice if they repeat some sentences or words more than others. Maybe the following model by Schulz von Thun can help you figure out how a person feels when they say something.


Schulz von Thun’s 4 ear model suggests the following:

1st ear: understand the factual content (facts)

2nd ear: decipher the self-disclosure of the other person (mood, motives)

3rd ear: grasp the relationship message (what does the other person think of me)

4th ear: recognize appeals (what does the other person expect from me)

B. Take a different perspective

What is the person's current life situation? Maybe they are going through some tough times in their private and/or professional life. The best thing you could do to be more empathic at work is to put yourself in the other person's shoes. Then try to understand where they stand and what they are experiencing. Set your own perspective aside for a moment and let yourself be guided by that of the person you are talking to.


It is important to ask the person what he or she needs, and how you could help them.

C. Support your people

It's important to demonstrate empathy to the right person, at the right time, and in the right situation. Talk to them and ask them how you could help. Perhaps they simply need a listening ear, or maybe they need your advice. Alternatively, they may come to you and ask you to help them solve a problem. In that case, if someone (e.g. a team member) has a family problem, you could propose taking a break or more flexible working hours.


Oftentimes, the easiest way to get people to open up to you is to smile and listen actively to what they say. Asking the right questions and being curious is immediately going to make you more empathic. That way, you will gain the person’s trust, and it’s your responsibility not to break it.


 

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