In many movies and TV shows, it seems like the movers and shakers in the company are borderline sociopaths with no regard for the feelings of others. They all seem like they’re looking out only for themselves. But the real truth is that if you want to boost your corporate career, you will need to learn how to empathize with others.
Take the issue of lone worker safety, for example. A few managers and small business owners balk at the expense of implementing proper lone worker security solutions. But if these people had some empathy, then they would have immediately realized how important it is to take care of the employees who work alone. If they had done that, then it would have benefited their companies by boosting employee morale, enhancing the brand reputation, and preventing costly lawsuits.
Empathy is simply the capacity to realize and share what other people feel. It’s not enough that you have great technical skills for your job. If your work requires you to interact with others (such as coworkers and customers, you need to develop an empathetic approach.
By improving your empathy, you can get along better with your team. You can anticipate the needs of your superiors. You can also help provide the services and products that your customers want.
Luckily, you can learn to develop empathy through simple techniques.
Listen Very Carefully
When others speak to you, listen to what they’re saying. Maintain eye contact and open your mind. Others are trying to communicate, and your job is to understand. Listen to not just the words, but also their tone of voice and their body language.
When you’re in a discussion, you will often hear people voice out opinions to which you don’t agree. Don’t just listen to their arguments so that you can top them or prove them wrong. Try to see why they have a different opinion because of their different perspectives.
At the very least, understanding why others have different opinion than yours will calm you down so you’re not upset. You can then put forth arguments that address the concerns of others, and you’re more likely to forge a compromise that works.
Treat Other People Respectfully and Civilly
In other words, treat others as you would like to be treated. Do you particularly enjoy being talked down to and harangued by your own superiors? Of course not. So don’t act the same way with the people you manage and lead. Play nice, be polite, and smile.
The good thing about this sort of behavior is that it’s catching. When you talk civilly to others, they tend to mirror your behavior and react to you in the same respectful manner. It’s a great way to build a healthy rapport with your team, and it can also start a more respectful relationship with your own boss.
It also works very well when you deal with customers, who tend to expect you to behave respectfully no matter what. So when you’re faced with an irate customer, don’t be defensive and don’t take it personally. Offer them some sympathy, and gently try to figure out how you can address their concerns.
Put Yourself in Other People’s Shoes
Try to see situations from the perspectives of your coworkers and your customers. How would you feel if you were in their place? It’s not even a theoretical exercise. You’ve been a customer for other businesses. You also worked as an entry-level employee who wants to impress the manager. By understanding their perspectives, you can communicate better and work with less tension and acrimony.
With the right level of empathy, you’re poised to advance far in your career. After all, you work well with others, you can anticipate your manager’s wants, and you can address client concerns. It just shows that when you care about others, it’s not purely altruistic—it does well for yourself too.