For many of us mastering empathy with our family is an awesome achievement. To truly listen while eliminating our own opinions and prejudgments brings us closer together. In response to troubling and difficult decisions and discussion we attempt to repeat back to our spouse or loved one in our own words what they have just described to us. When we feel fully understood, then we are ready to listen to the opposing thought. If we then return the gesture of pure empathic listening we should find our selves quickly meeting at a higher place, one of mutual respect. Following mutual respect we are then ready to cash in with the mutual benefit. It is likely that a discussion such as this ends with both agreeing upon a third, before absent, course of action which would have remained silent without the power of empathy.
How do we capitalize upon this empathy in the workplace though? We are not dealing with family in this case. Our family often times is more forgiving than others, and therefore we may find practicing empathic listening at home is much more comfortable. This fact, however, should cause us to consider our position. Our coworkers are less forgiving and as such require more delicate discourse. This is actually the perfect environment to utilize empathy. Most of us should find that our coworkers are quite full of opinion. In any good team environment, opinions should germinate at all times and from all sources. In constant pursuit of perfection is the place we should like to find our self. With all of these opinions then why not simply listen and discover with enchanting interest what lies in the minds of our colleagues?
If we find our self in charge of a group of our peers then we are in an excellent position to knit empathy into our work place and team. The idea of team requires that we find our selves in settings as a group attacking inefficiency in our processes. It might be a nice start to meet with the team for just one hour each week in a group setting. We must of course emphasize and operate in a manner, which shows that the group exercise is important and productive. A simple exercise of moving around the group one at a time asking each to review and analyze what they accomplished last week, the problems they had, and what hurdles lie ahead this week is a nice starting point. Our role as the leader is to simply repeat back in our own words what the team member has described while digging into our emotional memory bank recalling a situation which caused us to feel as they feel, the stress, the fear, the crunch, the frustration. At first we may find that no one in the group will offer suggestions. This is ok. We should not offer suggestions either. In fact this would destroy the purpose of the meeting. This time is for group empathy. We all get the chance to experience with one another the struggles and emotions that we face individually. This is something that otherwise we all fall blind to and thereby forget that our peers struggle just as we. Eventually the mutual respect grows amongst the team and the fruit of such a tree is mutual benefit.
Copyright © Robert Clinton Chedester 2013