Merge's Blog

To develop resiliency, start with empathy

Today’s blog post continues with our video tip series on tools to develop resiliency in your people.  One of the most overlooked aspects of the resilience skill set is the ability to cultivate empathy — both self-compassion and empathy for others.

Cultivate empathy … and develop resiliency

People who are empathetic have higher-quality working relationships with their colleagues, their staff, their clients and their superiors. When people feel understood, they are more receptive to others’ concerns, and this leads to better team cohesion and collaboration, more engagement, and ultimately greater organizational success.  If you want to develop resiliency in your people, start with empathy.

So what does empathy really mean?  It means being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to try to feel what the other person is feeling. Do your team members truly care for each other and share both success and failure?  Resilient teams consist of individuals who deeply and genuinely care about each other.  Empathy acknowledges and experiences, and it does it in four specific ways.

One, encourage more listening.  Just listen. Stop talking. Don’t try to offer a solution or dismiss the situation.

Two, don’t judge.  Hold back from assessing the situation using your own value filter, even if it’s just in your head.

Three, seek to understand. The underlying premise of empathy is that the other person needs to believe that you see their perspective. That starts with them knowing that you heard and understood them. So paraphrase what you heard.

And four, show that you care. Empathy never starts with the phrase “At least …”. As in “At least the kids are fine.” Even if it’s true, and your intention is to make the person feel better, it is not empathy, and it doesn’t work. So instead, listen more, and show that not only do you understand, but you are there if you are needed.

If you want to develop resiliency in your people, don’t underestimate the power of creating an empathetic workplace.  But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  What challenges are you facing when it comes to building empathy in your workplace?  Is it the workplace culture, or the organizational processes? Or is it senior leadership?  Do tell.  Perhaps you already work in an empathetic workplace.  If so, please share your experiences.  Add your comments below.

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