Empathy is a vital quality which appears to be in short supply in some workplaces. It’s quality that you either naturally display or a something you have to consciously work hard at to get any better. There are 4 ways that you can begin to improve empathy which will help you build better relationships at work.
- Listen, but really listen rather than look like you’re listening when you are actually planning on what to say next. Active listening skills such as paraphrasing can help improve how well you listen and demonstrate that you are listening, a useful building block for improving empathy.
- Don’t be judgemental, everyone has a different perspective and just because it’s different from yours doesn’t make it less valid. Listening helps to not be judgemental so does challenging your own prejudices. Thomas Kida said “don’t believe everything you think”, a useful sentiment to hang onto if you are trying to improve your empathy.
- Actively look for things that you have in common with the people you work with rather than looking for differences, being curious about others will help you here. Genuine interest in others, asking questions to help you get to know them better (stopping short of outright nosiness!!!) is a good ploy helping you build a relationship based on commonality not difference.
- Avoid labelling people. It’s easy to dislike a label – “he’s lazy”, “she’s rude”. That might be behaviour that an individual was displaying at a particular time for a particular reason, it doesn’t mean that that is who they are.
Building rapport in the workplace by consciously improving empathy is a sensible investment of time and effort. Dealing with conflict at work is time-consuming and sometimes costly if people leave because they don’t like working in a particular group. Employers invest a lot of time and money on recruiting the right people. Taking another step to work on improving empathy will bear fruit by making employees feel more welcome and part of a team.
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of Englandsupporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.