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How empathy will make your business more productive and profitable

Posted on 8/11/2018 by SuperUser Account
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We’ve all had the experience of walking into a meeting and seeing someone place their phone on their table. Often, an excuse follows. “Please excuse my phone, I’m just waiting on an urgent call to come through,” your colleague or client might say. Sometimes, you might be the one making the excuse. However, this action is more than just poor etiquette...

We’ve all had the experience of walking into a meeting and seeing someone place their phone on their table. Often, an excuse follows. “Please excuse my phone, I’m just waiting on an urgent call to come through,” your colleague or client might say. Sometimes, you might be the one making the excuse. However, this action is more than just poor etiquette. Research shows that empathy levels are dramatically decreased when a mobile device is placed on a table in this kind of situation. It shows that the person is not fully present in the meeting and has other priorities that are much higher on their list – often, that higher priority is whoever is on the other end of the line.

So why is this an issue, and why does empathy matter? When it comes to running a business, it is easy to get caught up in the numbers and projections. However, as any good manager knows, profits are closely linked to employee satisfaction and happiness. People that feel valued and respected in their workplace often work harder and are motivated by loyalty rather than money.

It’s understandable that in the fast-paced business world, empathy doesn’t even come third on your to-do list. However, empathy has the power to “wobble” your business, according to Harvard Business School Professor, Frances Frei. An expert in all things work culture, Frances has identified three pillars of trust a workplace should be built on: authenticity, empathy and logic. Empathy is perhaps the hardest to put into practice in a workplace but is still extremely valuable.

It’s worth considering what actions in your workplace may be sending the wrong message or reducing empathy among colleagues. Our top tips for increasing empathy in the workplace are to:

  • Instigate a strict ‘no technology’ rule during meetings. This will make sure all participants feel that they are being listened to and their opinions are valid.

  • Greet your colleagues when you see them in the office. Instead of heading straight to your desk, ask how them they are – you never know what a difference this could make to someone having a bad day.

  • Lead by example. It’s normal to have days when you don’t feel your best and leaning on colleagues for extra support can make them far more manageable. By showing that it’s okay to ask for this extra support, you can make this the norm, rather than the exception.

  • Share your story. Someone else may be struggling with the same things as you, and you can both benefit from sharing your thoughts.

  • Create break-out areas in your office. By allocating areas for lunch breaks, people are more likely to sit together and chat while they eat. You’d be surprised by how quickly friendships can form when people are chatting every day.

  • Make everyone feel included. Organising post-work dinner or drinks and inviting everyone in the office except a few people is inevitably going to hurt their feelings. Even if you may not ‘click’ with someone, invite them along anyway. Getting to know them better may completely change your perspective.

  • Give people the benefit of the doubt. Next time a colleague is rude or makes a mistake, be aware that things in their personal life may be affecting them at the office. Although you may need to correct their mistake and discuss it with them, approaching this conversation from an empathetic standpoint can make the situation easier for everyone.

These are just a few ideas, so why not have a brainstorm about other ways you can build a more empathetic workplace? As always, we'd love to hear your suggestions, so please feel free to drop us a line.