It makes sense why we become attached to our offices, coworkers and clients.
Studies suggest a third of our adult lives are spent at work. We may spend more time with our work colleagues than with our own friends and families.
You may feel you put your heart into your work. But do you put your heart into interactions with coworkers and clients? There is so much being said. Are you sharing and listening effectively?
We’re talking about empathy in the workplace.
This isn’t about being agreeable or creating a pleasant culture. It’s about interacting with others in a thoughtful way. Why? Because it can benefit everyone.
Empathy can be the secret sauce that unleashes productivity and performance.
In Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence, author Minter Dial considers how we can encode empathy into our business practices. Dial suggests empathy can improve our own relationships, as well as help businesses perform better.
When you do what you say and say what you mean, you build trust and followers inside and outside your company.
“Though empathy can be perceived as weakness, especially in a command and control culture, it can also be the secret sauce that unleashes productivity and performance,” Dial writes. “Empathy doesn’t mean being weak. It doesn’t even necessarily mean being nice. It is about understanding the other and, when having to pass along tough orders, can help their reception, even when there’s no choice in the matter.”
So, how can you encourage empathy in the office?
Explore empathy in your company’s culture.
Ask clients, “Are you being listened to?” Ask coworkers, “Do you feel valued in the company?” Listen thoughtfully, put yourself in their shoes, and consider what changes might be beneficial for everyone.
Create an environment where exercising empathy is accepted.
Make it OK to have conversations, explore professional development, and access learning opportunities. This doesn’t have to be formal. It can be as simple as chatting with others while waiting in line.
Do what you can to make this an easy, natural process.
Don’t force change. Share an article. Invite others on a coffee break. Ask for other opinions. Little steps and practices can go a long way to encourage thoughtful actions.