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Empathy: The Key to a Successful Workplace

Scenario One: You’re quite unwell, and there’s an important deadline at work. You ask your boss for a day off and they refuse.

Scenario Two: You’re quite unwell, and there’s an important deadline at work. You ask your boss for a day off, they agree, but the work suffers because there is no one else to do it, or that it will take longer for someone else to get the hang of it.

Scenario Three: You’re quite unwell, and there’s an important deadline at work. You ask your boss for a day off, you boss doesn’t agree. However, they acknowledge your situation and work, and as soon as the task is completed, they give you a break to rest and recover.

Which team would you rather work in?

On the flip side, if you were a customer, would you choose to get services from a company where the employees just talk to you about the formalities? Or would you choose to give business to a company where you feel like you are getting personalised service and where the staff really understands your needs?

The reason I’d select the latter options in both these cases is Empathy.

Essentially, people define empathy as the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and understand where they’re coming from, when in a certain situation. However, I find it physically rather impossible to step into someone else’s shoes, or mind. LearnEd defines empathy as the ability to bring yourself on the same page as the person that you’re dealing with- finding common ground and goals in any particular situation. In any office or organisation, empathy isn’t just about personal behaviour, but also about meeting targets without killing yourself for it. Empathy should reflect when dealing from the top to the bottom, and vice-versa. A 2018 study conducted by Business Solver on the State of Workplace Empathy states that 87% top bosses in organisation directly connect workplace empathy with business performance, productivity, retention and general business health. This idea is also supported by 79% of HR professionals who participated in the survey.

Harvard Business Review released an Empathy Index in 2016, which stated that empathy is more important to a growing business than ever before. In fact, the top ten most empathetic companies in this index have seen more than twice as much increase in value, compared to the companies at the bottom of the index! Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, echoes this opinion:“Empathy makes you a better innovator. If I look at the most successful products we [at Microsoft] have created, it comes with that ability to meet the unmet, unarticulated needs of customers.”

One of the biggest reasons why we do we well at a work is that we can show empathy towards our team, our staff and our clients. At a time where numbers drive our performance, it is important to remember that empathy is just as important. It is as basic as that.

Empathy, especially at the workplace, is one of the cornerstones of successful contact and communication, thus leading to good relationships- both personal and professional. Communicating genuinely will go a long way in building empathy. At LearnEd, we think that empathy can be cultivated through practice in our daily life. With that in mind, watch this space for the next post in this series, where we discuss practical ways to inculcate empathy in our team and yours!

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