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As leader, it is your responsibility to ensure your employees feel valued and lead in a way that contributes to an empathetic culture within your organisation.
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The missing ingredient in building empathy is not that you think you understand the other person, but that the other person feels understood. Stacey Nordwall People Program Lead – Leadership and Learning, Culture Amp
This lesson will help you to.... Lead with Empathy As discussed in the previous lesson, your people are key to a respectful and caring culture in your organisation. As leader, this culture is your responsibility.
**Identity ** Our sense of self is impacted by others.
Collaboration When empathy is part of decision-making, it can increase cooperation, and thereby improve team functioning.
** Creativity and innovation** By imagining the thoughts and feelings of others, it opens people up to new perspectives.
Influence Attempting to understand another’s standpoint is a stepping stone to discussion and toward assisting them to understand your own point of view.
COVID-19 has changed the way people work. There are more people working from home. There are less in-person meetings. Teams are separated and have less personal connection. This means that relationships with coworkers are harder to maintain and new team members have less opportunity to ask questions.
It may be easier to empathise with those who hold similar views or experiences to your own... (desite the greater effort required) ...but empathising with those who are different can challenge your own view and connect with others in different and unexpected ways.
Find your current culture leaders
Organisations often have unsung heroes who encourage team cohesion, despite this not being part of their job description.
These socially-connected individuals, should be recognised and used to champion an empathetic cause, as it has been shown that these type of campaigns are more effective when peer-led, and especially when led by the most connected people.
Leadership should leverage these individuals to help build an empathetic culture, and by taking this approach, there is the secondary benefit of actively recognising the good work and positive influences these employees have on others.
Use conversation strategies
**Pause before responding ** When listening to someone who is sharing their perspective, be careful not to jump early and try to finish their thought, interrupt or offer advice. Give it a couple seconds before responding. It may be uncomfortable, but it is important to allow silence in the conversation.
Ask questions rather than give advice Ask questions to better understand the other person’s position. E.g. "How do you feel about it?" "Can you explain a bit more?" "What would be helpful?"
Say “we” when addressing an issue By speaking of terms of “we” and “us” others can feel that they are not alone in their issue or struggle. It has been shown that modifying your language towards this manner is a step in adopting an empathetic attitude. Through this, others can feel their feelings are recognised, and they are supported by their team. Eg. *“Let’s talk about what we can do about this”. *
** Practice interchangeable responses** This is a type of activity or strategy that involves two people. One person will share their experience, then the other person will attempt to repeat back to them in their own words, what the situation they described and attempt to assign it to an emotion.
Then, either the first person will confirm that this is a correct interpretation and elaborate, or else disagree with the interpretation and further clarify.
This practice of confirming the situation goes beyond simply trying to “put yourself in their shoes”, where you have assumptions about their experiences. It allows the person to feel understood. In this way, it is critical to note that empathy-building is two-sided.
Which conversation strategy does this quote demonstrate? "Can you explain more about why you're feeling that way?"
If the loudest or most influential employees within your organisation are projecting an ideal, it can be perceived that this is the ideal which permeates the entire organisation. In turn, this perception can derail positive change. Leadership should make effort to recognise, highlight and reward those that actively demonstrate the empathy, especially if it is a quiet majority.
Create opportunities for different teams to work together
This will decrease the likelihood of miscommunication between teams. Therefore, there will be fewer opportunities for resentment to build when there are disagreements or variations in values or preferred strategies.