In today’s business world it seems as though everything is urgent. Projects come in with a due date of yesterday. Leaders and employees alike run from meeting to meeting. And work-life balance continues to be a challenge for many.
With so much going on, how can we bring more humanity into the workplace?
Previously, I wrote about the need for leaders to listen more when communicating to better understand where an employee is coming from.
As you work on that skill, 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 five critical steps to demonstrate empathy in the workplace and better connect with your employees:
1. Listen without interruption
2. Pause and imagine how your employee is feeling
3. Show you hear them by reflecting back what they are saying: “What I hear you saying is…..”
4. Validate their feelings: “I understand you’re feeling…..”
5. Support and close the conversation
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; and at the same time, you gather information that’s useful for you.
In what ways can you better empathize with your employees?