What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It’s the ability to step into someone else’s shoes, to be aware of their feelings and understand their needs.

It differs to sympathy which involves having feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune and to support them with compassion or sensitivity.

Empathy in the Workplace

Having empathy for our co-workers involves having a deep respect for our co-workers and showing we care by going beyond the rules and regulations. An empathic leadership style can make people feel part of a team and increase productivity, morale and loyalty. Leaders who are well-liked and respected use empathy as a powerful tool in the leadership toolkit.

When people in a team show empathy for one another it builds trust and when there is trust, good things begin to happen. This requires three things:

  1. Listening
  2. Openness
  3. Understanding

Listening attentively to what our co-workers are telling us shows that we’re putting our complete focus on them and we’re not easily distracted by other things around us. Leaders and managers who realise the success of a business is reached at by its people, know it is key to have an open attitude to understanding the feelings and emotions of their team.

It takes time, effort and practice to demonstrate empathy and to be able to show awareness and understanding. Many organisations focus only on achieving goals with little or no concern for the effects on employees. This leads to workers who feel stressed, frustrated, demotivated and sometimes alone, even when working in a team. Th same applies to managers and leaders a the top when no one shows they appreciate the heavy duty of care.    

Some reasons why we feel demotivated and stressed at work include:

  • Demands – Work overload, work patterns or their work environment
  • Control – Not empowered to achieve your full potential, leading to frustration
  • Values - Your values do not align with the values of the organisation
  • Support - You feel paralysed by the lack of a development framework to improve your skills and no one listens to, or understands you
  • Relationship conflict – The inability to understand things from another person’s perspective or the geographical or cultural differences which change the way things are done in business
  • Collaboration – The lack of opportunities to share lessons learned that feedback into a continuous improvement loop, the lack of team meetings or the fear of reprisal
  • Culture - A blame culture exists, starting at the top with the Board and senior management, then works its way down to the bottom, undermining the purpose of entire organisation.

Bridge a Gap will use a series of tools, techniques and strategies at our accelerated improvement workshops to help people gain a deeper appreciation of the learning and behavioural differences between people in the workplace and how to manage these relationships better.

Contact Us:
10 Yairs Rise,
North Kessock,
Inverness IV1 3YJ
Email: Helena@bridgeagap.co.uk
Tel: 07825508945
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