The Science of Empathy: And What You Need to Know

Empathy is increasingly recognised as one of the most important traits a business person can demonstrate. Being able to see the world from another person’s perspective – whether it’s your employee, your customer, your contractor or a stakeholder, can provide an advantage for you as a leader and for the business itself.

Interestingly, when employees perceive their organisation or boss to be empathetic, they are more likely to be creative, productive, and innovative. They will work better together as a team, demonstrate greater loyalty and feel more confident and safer when taking risks to drive the business forward.

Importantly, employees are also far more likely to better accept performance feedback, even when it’s difficult, from an employer who displays empathy. That’s because rather than feeling attacked, they’re more likely to perceive the feedback as an opportunity to grow.

Psychologists describe three types of empathy which enable us to connect with other people:

  • Emotional empathy, in which you physically feel the pain someone else is experiencing; 
  • Cognitive empathy, in which you attempt to understand what someone else is feeling and why; and
  • Empathic concern or compassion, in which you are motivated to improve others’ well-being.

Creating a culture of empathy may feel like a challenge however it doesn’t need to be. Here are seven simple steps:

  1. Allow extra time before meetings for more personal and general discussions before getting down to business;
  2. Take time as a team to imagine and discuss your customers’ needs, reflecting on their fears, desires, pain points etc – then brainstorm how these issues can be overcome;
  3. No idea is a bad idea – encourage team members to speak up, to tell you what will make their work easier and to contribute their thoughts about business development;
  4. Listen carefully and with curiosity, and acknowledge your team’s contributions; 
  5. Regularly let your employees know – through words and actions – that you value their work – even tell them on a daily basis;
  6. Recognise and reward empathetic actions within your organisation to encourage positive behaviours and provide examples for others to follow; and
  7. Identify empathetic people within the organisation (ask around to find out who’s been helping who) then appoint these people to provide natural support for others.
Need help to make change? Contact the Ayers Group

Developing your staff and your own skills is time-consuming and take creative energy. At the Ayers Group, we’re here to help by taking care of your administrative obligations including your payroll and contractor management. Talk to an expert from the Ayers Group today to find out more about how we can help you.