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The Importance of Empathy

Taking the time to listen

How often do you listen to other people - and I mean truly listen, without your mind wandering or planning what you are going to say next?

While we all may care about other people, it can be easy to not pay attention to how they are really feeling.

Taking the time to understand someone else’s emotions and experiences can be beneficial to both you and the other person. This is an example of empathy, which is a key part of being emotionally intelligent in your personal and professional life.

Empathy is the tendency to recognise, understand and appreciate how other people feel. It involves being able to see and experience the world from someone else’s perspective and being sensitive and considerate of their feelings.

Here are just 3 reasons why empathy is so important in the workplace:

1. Displaying empathy builds stronger relationships at work because it shows your colleagues that you care about them. They are likely to feel heard and respected as you take the time to actively listen and truly understand their perspective. This deepens your connection with them and encourages them to place their trust in you. As a result, they may be more inclined to collaborate and work with you on tasks and projects.

2. Perspective taking is an important part of empathy and involves being able to view a situation in the way that others may see it. This can be used to predict how other people will react to an event. For example, if you had to tell your team about a deadline being moved forward, you might imagine how this will make them feel. Anticipating their emotions allows you to prepare how you will handle the situation so that you can reduce any negative impact your team’s emotions may have on themselves and their work.

3. Empathy can lead to more effective conflict management between people in the workplace. When someone lacks empathy, they are quicker to attack or dismiss another person’s perspective in favour of their own, which can often escalate an already tense situation. However, by being empathetic, you are likely to acknowledge people’s feelings or perspectives without passing judgement and this can help difficult conversations become calmer and more constructive.

Showing empathy can help improve your working relationships, conflict management and ability to predict other people’s reactions. So, start developing your empathy by taking time to truly listen to the people around you.

Learn more about developing your emotional intelligence today with EQ Extra.

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