The importance of empathy in the workplace

However, even the best nurses can learn tools to improve empathy. In fact, most people who score high on ratings in the area of ​​empathy often have no idea what they are doing; They just know that they love people, enjoy working with and helping people, and value people as individuals.

At a recent presentation to healthcare professionals on empathy in New York City, the audience agreed that healthcare professionals show empathy most of the time – to their patients. When the audience was asked about using empathy with colleagues, with family, or even with themselves, they seemed pretty sure they could do a better job.

What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes. The definition of positive psychology is: The quality of feeling and understanding another person’s present-day situation—their views, emotions, and actions (reactions)—and communicating that to the person. So you know what they’re feeling, or at least suspect you know what they’re up against, and you communicate that for further discussion or clarification.

Empathy is an emotional intelligence (EI) competency. In the field of emotional intelligence, there are four sets of competencies and eighteen competencies. The four groups are:

– self conscious

– self management

Social awareness

Relationship management

Empathy falls under social awareness. This skill reflects a person’s ability to communicate and relate to others and is an essential skill in building and managing healthy relationships. Without the ability to understand what the other is going through, our relationships remain superficial and without the depth and richness that comes when we share an emotional connection. missed opportunity.

Why is empathy important?

Without empathy, people tend to go about life without considering how other people might feel or what they might think. We all have different points of view. We all experience mood, pain, pain, joy, and sadness. And we are very limited when we only see our own perspective. Without taking a moment to evaluate others, it is easy to make assumptions and jump to conclusions. This often leads to misunderstandings, bad feelings, conflict, low morale, and even divorce. People do not feel that anyone is listening or understanding.

One client reported that a recent radio show polled its listeners on how they knew they were loved and they answered that they knew they were loved when they felt heard. In surveys with employees about what makes a good manager, people want to feel that their manager is listening to them. This is a big problem. When leaders, parents, and educators listen, truly listen, using empathy to understand what a person is thinking or feeling without trying to change, fix, or problem solve, the person feels valued as a human being. And when people feel valued, they feel safe. They feel important. This means that they are free to be themselves and do their job. In other words, employees are more productive when they feel appreciated.

The power of empathy

When you use empathy to understand why someone is angry or when a child is behaving, for example, you may learn that something happened in the house that is upsetting them for example, or that their mother is sick, or that the child has no food in the house to eat when he is hungry. Instead of reacting to other people’s feelings or getting defensive, you can ask questions about their behavior or their emotional state. Discipline or consequences for their behavior may still be needed, but by using empathy first, the person feels valued and heard, and will, therefore, easily accept responsibility for their actions.

Empathy is the missing link in families, in our schools, and in our workplaces. As we grow up, kids can often be mean to each other. If we start teaching empathy in elementary school and middle school, maybe we will grow up to be more loving, forgiving, and understanding of one another.

Empathy and compassion

Compassion means caring. It is the desire to “ease one’s suffering.” To be empathetic, we need to care or the person will not share their feelings. They will not feel safe opening up to us. Without pity, we wouldn’t spend time listening to another person. We wouldn’t bother asking them about their experience. We won’t care what they think or feel. Compassion is a necessary component of empathy.

Empathy challenges

What does it take to be more empathetic? Why don’t we do it more often?

1. For one thing, it requires our attention. We are often in our heads; We have our own agenda. We are busy. So we don’t care what other people think or feel. In order to get better, we need to be more self-aware and more aware of others. For example, the next time you ask someone how they are doing, listen to their response. Do you believe them? Are they really okay? Ask yourself if you are interested in learning more. If so, ask them a question or share your feedback.

2. It takes time. In our fast-paced world, people keep moving. Empathy requires that we stop and take the time to care. “What is happening to you, you seem to be thinking about something?”

3. Your self-esteem is getting in the way. When your mind is so occupied with negative thoughts about you, you won’t have the space to be truly present for someone else. People often think they are empathetic but when you think about what you are thinking when you are listening to the person, you may find that you are preoccupied with thinking about you – how the person thinks of you, if they like you, you should be. Do something else, or you won’t be able to help them… blah blah blah.

4. There is a history between the two of you that you carry around like baggage. The longer you know someone, the more history you have with them, the more difficult it is to put that aside and simply stay with them. I have developed a file preconditioned response Which you have to be aware of and stop in order to truly open up the connection with this person. Look at them with new eyes. Leave your luggage at the door. Tell a new story about your relationship. It’s not easy.

5. You are a professional problem solver. You think that if someone shares something, you automatically need to fix it for them. This is not sympathy. This is about you, not them, and your need to impress or be right. It removes responsibility for the solution they problem and puts it in for you to forbid. It devalues ​​a person and makes them feel undervalued.

Empathy is a choice. We have to choose to improve, nurture, and get out of our own way, bridging the gaps between us—generations, cultures, religions, socioeconomics, and so on. Empathy allows us to be fully human and gives others permission to do so. same.