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The Power of Empathy in the Workplace

We’ve all had those moments of pure attention, when it seems everyone in the room is attracted to your energy. Yet for many of us, that place is difficult to tap into. Your mind races with nervousness about something previously said and you worry about what to say next, each distraction lessening the power of your interaction.

The key to success in these moments is empathy. This ability to understand and relate to others is a powerful skill that takes work, but in mastering it, you can better both your personal and professional interactions.

Related: Use these five elements of psychology to improve your writing.

The Power of Empathy

Empathy is about establishing trust by outwardly recognizing what someone else is experiencing. It’s difficult for people to fully engage in any interaction if they don’t feel that they are being heard and understood.

Think about how free and open your interactions are with close friends and family. Your conversations are super productive because you have each freed yourself to fully engage.

However, at work or in our other day-to-day interactions, we are naturally cautious. We withhold information, we don’t ask the tough questions, and it’s much harder to make decisions or resolve issues. That generally leads to subpar outcomes.

Four Steps for Practicing Empathy

1. Observe: Pay attention to voice, tone, body language, and the situation.
2. Listen: What feelings and emotions are being conveyed?
3. Interpret: What needs are behind those feelings and emotions?
4. Share: Openly state what you think you understand about the other person and ask for feedback to make sure you’re right.

Straightforward, right? Not exactly.

Why Listening is Scientifically a Struggle

Being a good empathizer is largely connected with being a good listener.

Chris Voss, former FBI negotiator and author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, explains that it’s a struggle to focus in attentive moments because listening is far from a passive activity. It is the most active thing you can do, and empathetic listening can power some of the most fundamental functions of your workplace.

If you struggle with listening, you are not alone. Renowned author and journalist Michael Pollan examined this difficulty in his recent book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence.

Pollan found that a major area of the brain known as the default mode network (DMN), which acts as an overseer keeping brain operations in check, is most likely the very operator that makes active listening so difficult.

How the DMN Works

The DMN is what kicks in when you have nothing to do. And it seems to be responsible for the construction of what we call the self or ego. It’s all that noise that comes pouring in when you’re in idle; the flood of thoughts about the past and future and myriad distractions that we often feel powerless to overcome. It can become who we are. It also leads to rumination and self-referential thinking, which is not conducive to empathy.

The DMN is powerful, but you are not powerless to resist it. Attention, focus, and active listening help quiet the ego, allowing you more effective listening.

Try this: Consistent meditation, even just 10 minutes a day, has been shown to decrease activity in the DMN, which then leads to better empathy.

Practicing Empathy in the Workplace

Empathy in the workplace is something I encourage the team at D Custom to actively practice. Here are some of the things it can power.

Empathy and Negotiating

While Voss’ FBI negotiations might not be the first place your mind goes in wondering where and how empathy might be better understood and applied, it is paramount in their field. As he notes, when preparing for a negotiation, it’s more important to concentrate on demeanor and state of mind rather than what you will say or do. This is empathy in all its glory.

Empathy and Trust

Empathy establishes trust, and establishing trust enables more productive working relationships. By practicing empathy in the workplace, you will expose goals and concerns more readily. And you cannot resolve issues until that comes from both sides.

Implementing empathy to build trust starts with recognizing people’s fears and validating them without passing judgment or offering a solution. If you do that in a consistent way as a team member or leader, you will get all manner of engagement from your team.

Empathy and Creativity

Empathy is about a genuine connection, and active listening is a gateway to thoughtful collaboration. Ideas come to light in a creative environment, and an attentive approach helps increase input so much that possibilities expand in a way they would not have otherwise.

Empathy can be a force for powerful relationships. From persuading groups to negotiating with terrorists to growing a fruitful community of coworkers, empathy emerges as an imminent provider of success. It’s wired into our psychology to the point that we can’t resist it. So be present and empathy will follow. From that, the possibilities are boundless.

By Paul Buckley

Source: The Power of Empathy in the Workplace | D Custom

 

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How empathy can help you create a better work culture

Empathy is one of those things that can help in any part of life whether it’s your family, friends, that special person and even also at work. Understanding what empathy is and how it effects people took me long time. I struggle with human interactions and I am not ashamed to admit it, so I wanted to share my experience, as to what I have found from all of it…….

Source: How empathy can help you create a better work culture

Empathy and Emotional Intelligence at Work | GGSC | Empathy Magazine

One of the key insights from the science of happiness is that our own personal happiness depends heavily on our relationships with others. By tuning into the needs of other people, we actually enhance our own emotional well-being. The same is true within organizations: those that foster trusting, cooperative relationships are more likely to have a more satisfied, engaged—and more productive and innovative—workforce, with greater employee loyalty and retention.

Source: Empathy and Emotional Intelligence at Work | GGSC | Empathy Magazine

Empathy Technologies Like VR, AR & Social Media Can Transform Education – Jennifer Carolan

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In The Better Angels of Our Nature, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker makes the case for reading as a “technology for perspective-taking” that has the capacity to not only evoke people’s empathy but also expand it. “The power of literacy,” as he argues “get[s] people in the habit of straying from their parochial vantage points” while “creating a hothouse for new ideas about moral values and the social order……..

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/22/empathy-technologies-like-vr-ar-and-social-media-can-transform-education/?_scpsug=crawled,5589,en_-08GtGMBhGHHyg2UGQFp

 

 

 

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Three Behaviors That Can Help You Mature From Boss To Leader – Chris Myers

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One of the most embarrassing mistakes I made early on at BodeTree was believing that the title of CEO automatically made me a leader.  It didn’t. I had power, but had yet to earn my authority. Thought I fancied myself a leader, I was just a boss. It took years of mistakes, struggles, and hard realizations for that to change. You see, anyone can be a boss, but relatively few have the drive, patience.I still have a long way to go, but I have learned three behaviors that are central to the transformation from boss to leader. Like most things of value, these behaviors are easy to accept but hard to live……

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrismyers/2018/09/28/three-behaviors-that-can-help-you-mature-from-boss-to-leader/#3742a05b4f68

 

 

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Empathetic Listening Can Improve Health Care & Treatment Recommendations – Maggie Leung

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It is critical for physicians to respond appropriately with empathy to support families during a difficult time. Care conferences are discussions held between physicians and families to discuss medical treatment plans and decisions, and often involve high-stake decision-making, which can be emotionally stressing for the family. Past studies have found that physicians in the adult ICU setting do not commonly show empathy, and are often missing the opportunities to connect with families of the patient. However, this has not been well studied in the paediatric ICU setting……

Read more: https://www.medicalnewsbulletin.com/empathetic-listening-health-care-treatment/?_scpsug=crawled,5589,a595796b0106017107cbe36f9e8b6be20b1145e02188c642bf3d56958fa54748#_scpsug=crawled,5589,a595796b0106017107cbe36f9e8b6be20b1145e02188c642bf3d56958fa54748

 

 

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Enterprises, Emotion & the Rise of The ‘Empathy Economy – Mike Elgan

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Big business is getting emotional.

User interfaces and other aspects of enterprise computing are being increasingly designed to detect the emotional states or moods of users, and also to simulate emotion when they communicate back to the users.

A Gartner report published in January said that within four years, your devices will “know more about your emotional state than your own family.”

Deep learning has advanced emotion detection from basic emotions such as happiness, surprise, anger, sadness, fear and disgust to more than 20 more subtle emotions that include awe, happy surprise and hate.

Source: https://www.computerworld.com/article/3287092/artificial-intelligence/enterprises-emotion-and-the-rise-of-the-empathy-economy.html

 

 

 

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Why Qualitative Analytics Is Your Key Tool For User Empathy – Appsee

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Empathy. We’ve heard that word time and time again, but at the end of the day, it’s easy to forget about it. Even though you spend hours trying to get into your user’s head, when dealing with piles of usability dilemmas, performance problems, and other annoyances, empathy gets pushed to the bottom of our list. The reason is that empathy is a tricky term to define, and it’s hard to push it into a mold of an executable method for UX best practices. That’s where qualitative analytics comes in.

Why is empathy so important? It’s the key to creating a winning app through every step of the creative process, from ideation to release. Apps are meant to make people happier and/or improve their lives, so the concept behind an app is rooted in empathy. From there onwards, user experience design, UI, and retention are all improved when the team maintains empathy towards the users, walking a mile in their shoes.

You can’t feel empathy towards numbers.

Qualitative analytics adds a human face to the numbers and graphs of mobile app analytics. When looking at a graph showing an uptick or a downturn in user retention, how much can you really tell about your users? More importantly, can you really imagine their experience of using your app? Many mobile professionals have sat in front of computer screens, staring at graphs and trying to guess what made their users behave as they did. Traditional quantitative analytics can show you the numbers behind your users, such as the quit rate on a certain screen, but analytics need something more to help you understand why you’re seeing those numbers.

Why qualitative, why now?

App users are becoming more complicated. As smartphones become more and more popular across different ages, backgrounds, and locations, mobile analytics have to take more variables into account. The task of drawing conclusions from statistics is hard enough, and becomes even more difficult as more parameters — and more people — are added to the equation.

Qualitative analytics offers a solution that takes all the power of quantitative analytics and adds a human element: actually following users as they embark on their journey through an app. Empathy at its finest. Instead of relying on reviewers and beta testers, every member of the mobile app team can use qualitative analytics to see their app “in the wild”, and make sure that it’s running smoothly.

How does it work?

Qualitative analytics includes two main features that add a human, personal layer to mobile analytics. One is user session recordings, which show videos and step-by-step breakdowns of every user action, every gesture, and every tap a user makes. This makes it possible to walk alongside your users step by step as they explore your app. You see every interaction and response, and whenever your users get lost in the app, search for something that can’t be found, or expect the app to behave a certain way, you’ll be right there to observe and then try to understand why they did that.

The second is touch heatmaps, which aggregate all user gestures into graphics that remove all guesswork from the decision-making process, pointing to usability issues such as unresponsive gestures, navigation flaws, and unclear microcopy. Touch heatmaps give a more bird’s-eye point of view of your app’s usability and UI, and removes the need to draw conclusions from numbers alone.

Without qualitative analytics, you would be forced to look at graph upon graph of aggregated data, and guess your way into your user’s mind. Qualitative does away with the guesswork and makes it easy to put yourself in the user’s shoes, making empathy accessible and frustration-free. These highly visual, highly personal tools bridge the gap between the people behind the app and the people using it, enabling developers and designers to see their work in action and improve it quickly, efficiently, and without second-guessing their decisions.

Empathy should be a two-way street.

The good news that qualitative analytics bodes for companies is that empathy can go both ways. Qualitative analytics doesn’t just help increase empathy for the user, but also extends it to the entire team. A look at the various business and project management trends of the past few decades will show that we are constantly on the lookout for new ways to increase our productivity, efficiency, and teamwork, as well as the satisfaction we get from our work. Qualitative is more than just another productivity hack: it opens us up to a whole philosophy based on empathy, of focusing on our needs as well as the users’, and of understanding the deeper questions of why and how.

When used right, a qualitative analytics platform can make life easier for every single person working on the app, from the marketing intern and the junior developer just hired last week to the senior product manager and the founder and CEO. The abilities of qualitative analytics can be used not only by UX designers, but also by developers, marketers, and product managers. Devs can follow the steps a user took that led up to a crash. Marketers can follow up on in-app ads and how users interact with them. Product managers can get an all-encompassing look at their app’s usability, popularity, and growth. By adopting a qualitative analytics tool, all team members can gain insight into their day-to-day work, reducing guesswork and uncertainty, making better decisions faster, and reaping the fruits of the labor as they visually see their app improving.

A few more words

A lot has been said about empathy and UX, and now it is time for empathy to make its big breakthrough into the rest of the tech world. When we think and talk about our end users, our business partners, and our team, empathy can be the difference between a good app store review and a bad one, an energized team and a demoralized one, or a win-win situation and, well, the other thing. By helping you to understand your users with empathy, qualitative analytics will treat your team with empathy too, by reducing frustration, cutting down on hours spent on guesswork, and improving teamwork and communication.

 

 

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Bringing Men Out of Isolation with Empathy and Accountability – Justin Lioi

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The mass of men lead incredibly isolated lives these days. One seemingly no-brainer solution is for men to connect with other men wherever they can: MeetUp groups, local bars, softball teams, etc.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this idea, it’s not enough, and can actually end up doing more harm than good. Men need to be grounded in an analysis of patriarchy and oppression and unless this happens at the same time (or before) they come together in groups these new friendships and coalitions run the risk of reinforcing the same oppressive systems that are already in place.

The Invisibility of Patriarchy (at least, to the Patriarchy)

Men don’t talk about their feelings., so the stereotype goes. Well, they do talk about anger. They certainly complain. If they’re straight, they complain about their female partners. Saying they’re too needy. Always wanting them to do something they don’t want to do. Not having enough sex.

That’s fine. It’s fine for people to talk about what they want and what they are not getting. There’s no good reason to shut down anyone from expressing their wants and desires, their frustrations and irritations. The problem comes about when there’s no deeper exploration of all of these things. When you’re around your local bar or when you’re at softball practice it’s likely no one is analyzing relationships (I’d love to hear about exceptions, though!) Complaints are either being heard and left alone or they’re being fired up and intensified.

It’s an echo chamber and nothing gets shifted or worked on.

I often get asked if getting men together to talk is enough: “Forget therapy, forget groups, just get men together. Let them build relationships with each other and then things will go well. Society will move forward. We just all need to talk.”

The problem is that oppression and privilege is often invisible to the people who have it. If they are not continually brought back to examine it—if the fish is not constantly told they are swimming in water—they don’t realize it’s there and they think that society really is a meritocracy.

Empathy & Accountability Are Both Required

For groups of men coming together to be effective two things need to be present. They need to be able to do some of the above—express their anger, annoyance, irritation—even if those feelings could be heard by some as unacceptable (which is why we should do it in male spaces so we don’t continue to subject women to this). Only bad can come from repressing all of that. It’ll just come out in some other way: resentment or violence, to name a few. I’m not making excuses for it, but “holding it in” has never worked out well for anyone.

The second important part of this coming together is to not stay there. Men need to be open and less defensive when there is some pushback around the underlying premise of what’s being said. Not, “You shouldn’t say that. How dare you feel that way.” But more along the lines of, “Ok, I hear that, but let’s take a look at where your anger is directed. What might we all be missing here and what is the other person seeing that isn’t as apparent to you?”

Accept the feeling, but challenge the premise from where it arises. Buddies and groups of people without an analysis tend to stay in the anger/resentment without pushing forward. They practice their anger and annoyance without holding each other accountable.
And we all stay stuck.

There’s a stereotype in politics that the left is all about “bleeding hearts” and the right is only about “personal responsibility”. I’m not here to challenge political stereotypes, but I know that for growth—personal and communal growth—we need both. We need to empathize while also holding ourselves and others accountable. One or the other does nobody any good.

So, yes, men need to come together into groups. They need to come out of isolation and give up the myth of full independence, but they need to do so outside of the space that reinforces patriarchy and inside the space that moves us forward.

 

 

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