Imagine a world that is full of highly empathetic people. In this world, presidents, governors, and all elected officials will work together for the common good of their citizens, they will ensure that their fellow countrymen and women have access to basic necessities of life by creating policies that will be favorable to the majority of the citizenries. In this world, managers and business leaders will create conducive working environment for their subordinates, and they will support them in their career growth. In this world, Doctors will deliver top notch care for their patients, teachers will be more compassionate and work hard to impact useful knowledge on their students, customer service representatives will listen more and work to meet and exceed customers’ expectations. I am not thinking about a utopian world. I am imagining and advocating for a world where everyone cares more for and about one another.
Empathy is a very important trait that everyone especially those that are striving to become effective leaders in the society must possess. Empathy lets you put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Being empathetic means that you seek to understand and share the feelings of the other person, it is about showing genuine concerns about what bothers others, and if at all possible, finding ways to alleviate their struggles. Empathetic people are selfless and caring people, and they make good leaders in the workplace, and in the country as a whole. George Weah, the famous soccer star who recently became the President of Liberia show a good example of an emphatic leader when he cut his own salary because of the financial crisis in his country. He is leading with empathy, he is not just asking his fellow countrymen to make sacrifices like some other unempathetic leaders would do. He led by example. Would you like to be more empathetic and create a more caring world? Here are five ways you can empathize with others:
- Perspectives: The world does not revolve around you alone. You must seek to view things from other people’s perspectives in order to understand their positions. You need to learn how to put yourself in the other person’s shoes so that you can make good judgment in any situation. This is the first and essential step to becoming an empathetic person.
- Friendly: As a manager, you do not necessarily have to be friends to your subordinates, but you need to be friendly. Being friendly helps you to connect and engage your subordinates in more productive ways. Maybe a subordinate wants to take some time off to attend to urgent personal matters, he or she will be more comfortable to approach a friendly boss to discuss the situation, and in return, an empathetic boss will still be able to get the employee to get his assigned task completed because of the relationship that they have established.
- Respect: Respect is reciprocal, in order to earn the respect of others, you must first respect them. To become an empathetic leader, you need to respect the views and opinion of other people around you, sometimes they may be right if you take your time to carefully analyze the situation. Even when it seems you are right, you should try to understand their opinion, then you can respectfully disagree with them and clearly express your views and why you will go with your decision.
- Set proper expectation: It is always good and beneficial to set realistic expectations in the workplace. Are you a boss that expects your subordinate to complete a task that typically take 40 hours within 16 hours simply because you think the task is easy? You will find it difficult to retain talents with unreasonable expectations. There are times when employees will be expected to work extra hours in order to get their tasks completed, but it should not be a continuous pattern. To become an empathetic manager, you need to step in from time to time to help the employee to meet the deadline.
- Understand people’s uniqueness: Everyone is different. You must have heard the saying “Treat everyone the same”. The truth is, to become a successful leader, you should treat people fairly, not the same. Every employee is different, as a manager, it is your responsibility to understand and identify the qualities and characteristics of your team. Understanding their uniqueness will help you to assign tasks appropriately helping to foster healthy relationship among the team members.