In today’s world, we’re faced with a number of new challenges both in the workplace and at home – whether it’s our new working arrangements, impacts from COVID-19, looking inward as we shine a spotlight on societal issues, or something else – and our people need empathy.
With so much going on, how can we bring more humanity into the workplace?
I recently wrote about the need for leaders to listen more now than ever before to better understand where employees are coming from and how they’re doing amidst the myriad of challenges facing us today.
As you work on listening, it’s important to recognize that it’s not enough to just hear what’s being said. To build and maintain healthy relationships with your team – relationships based on common understanding and trust – you need to show empathy, respect, and sensitivity.
When you communicate with your employees, they want to know you understand where they’re coming from and what they’re feeling. Empathy doesn’t mean you agree. It’s about helping an employee know he or she is being heard.
The desire to be heard is a basic human need.
Here are the 6 critical steps to demonstrate empathy in the workplace and better connect with your employees:
Listen without interruption
Pause and imagine how your employee is feeling
Show you hear them by reflecting back what they are saying: “What I hear you saying is…”
Validate their feelings: “I understand you’re feeling…”
Offer support and close the conversation
Follow up to see how the person is doing after a little time has passed
Responding with empathy, and reflecting back feelings when appropriate, not only demonstrates good listening, it shows you are sincere and care.
The payoff is an employee who knows you care, which traditionally supports engagement, discretionary effort and results.
In what ways can you better empathize with your employees?