By Maria Geokezas, VP of Client Services
Empathy is often defined as the ability to recognize emotions in others and to understand other people’s perspectives on a situation. Professional empathy is an interpersonal skill that is important in developing relationships with co-workers and colleagues as well as customers.
Empathy is often considered the basis of emotional intelligence (EQ) and they don’t always get the respect they deserve in business situations. Unlike learning new technical skills, improving empathy and EQ are sometimes seen as irrelevant in business or impossible to change. Plus, it is a tough subject to discuss in the workplace. Many managers simply avoid talking to their team members about interpersonal skills. Most people are self-conscious about discussing personal feelings in a business setting thinking that it is a sign of weakness.
When you consider that 90% of top performers in the workplace have high emotional intelligence, it makes sense to invest in developing interpersonal skills. Higher levels of empathy lead to clearer communications, better decision making, and stronger, more meaningful relationships which is the keystone for successful customer relationships.
Where Empathy Starts
Professional empathy starts with treating everyone like they are your customer – from your client to your boss to colleagues, direct reports and vendors. Understanding the world that your “customers” operate in day-to-day helps to establish trust and open lines of communication. The realm of professional empathy includes things like the dynamics of their business, their company’s goals and reporting structure and culture. But it should also include personal motivations like career goals. Empathy goes a long way in establishing a foundation for a strong ongoing business relationship.
Resources for Workplace Empathy Training
- Learn about Emotional Intelligence from this LinkedIn Learning session
- Learn how to communicate with empathy
- Initiate these 4 actions to improve your personal empathy
- Check out our blog post about empathy training for sales
- Read Patrick Lencioni’s business fable about demonstrating empathy