There is a lot of talk today about empathy. What is it and should you bring it to the table in your next job? Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of another person. It is an important social skill that allows you to walk in someone else’s shoes and adapt your behavior to better suit their interpersonal need. Empathy is incredibly important in the workplace where you may find yourself working with a variety of personality types. Here are some ways you can continue to develop your empathy and demonstrate it year-round.
Handing problems with others.
Empathy is all about honing interpersonal skills. It’s essential that you learn methods to handle problems with others that don’t involve finger pointing or anger. How can you take a step back and evaluate the situation from the other person’s perspective? Can this help you find a resolution for everyone?
Working with different personalities.
Throughout your career, you’ll be working with a number of different people with different backgrounds and personalities. Being able to work with others in a healthy and productive way is the hallmark of someone with good empathy skills. Take time to learn how to handle a variety of personalities in your life, including those that don’t mesh with your own.
Handling stress in the office.
Stress is the body’s reaction to external stimuli. Workplace culture can be stressful for a lot of people with looming deadlines, requirements from multiple people, and interactions with angry customers or frustrating technology. But how you deal with stress is an important part. It’s not about retreating into yourself or sneaking off to eat donuts in the break room. Learn positive coping strategies to help you handle stressful times.
Focus on active listening.
More than anything, developing a sense of empathy in your professional life comes down to how you listen to others. It’s human nature to listen to someone only long enough to formulate a response. We often talk over one another because we feel the need to be heard, but that method is rarely satisfactory. Instead, when someone comes to you with a concern actively listen. Repeat back what they’ve said and ask for any necessary clarification. That will help you, and them, communicate better and solve the problem.
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