The Empathy Advantage: 7 Reasons Empathy Matters in the Real World

Empathy is good for business. It’s not making excuses, feeling sorry, or trying to fix.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

7 reasons empathy matters in the real world:

  1. Employee retention and engagement.
  2. Positive culture.
  3. Customer service.
  4. Trust.
  5. Collaboration.
  6. Creativity.
  7. Crisis management.

Why people struggle to show empathy:

  1. Affirming feels weak.
  2. Judging people through the lens of your strengths feels right. You think, “I’ve been through worse. Deal with it.”
  3. Fixing is your default mode.
  4. Business advantages of empathy escape you.
  5. Getting stuff done is all that matters.

5 ways to practice empathy:

#1. Provide eye contact.

Let people know you see them by looking them in their eyes at least long enough to see their eye color. If looking in someone’s eyes feels awkward look at a spot between their eyebrows.

#2. Mirror expressions. 

Mirroring lets people know you’re listening.

Match tone, volume, and facial expressions. It’s rude to smile when someone is crying.

Tip: Don’t mirror anger. Adopt a comfortable tone. When someone is angry, soften your tone.

#3. Practice open postures. 

  1. Face forward.
  2. Open your arms.
  3. Uncross your legs.
  4. Lean forward a bit.

#4. Name emotions.

Tell people what you notice and ask them what’s going on for them. I notice you aren’t smiling as much as usual. What’s going on for you?

Agree on a name. “So, you’re saying you feel discouraged?”

Naming enables managing.

When you name an emotion, situation, problem, or opportunity you build a platform for action.

Image of a wide-eyed kitten.

#5. Listen.

Put your fixer-self on the shelf.

Ask questions that help people express themselves. Avoid judgements. When people tell you how they feel – it’s how they feel.

When someone says, “I’m at the end of my rope,” say, “That’s a tough place to be. What’s going on for you?”

Tip: The secret sauce to connecting is being genuine.

What makes empathy difficult?

What practices enable leaders to engage empathetically?

Still curious:

What if You Suck at Empathy

Tin Rhythms from Tiny Hearts

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