Remote Living Has Eroded Our Empathy and Executives Must Find a Way To Understand Their Staff

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It is difficult to count what we have lost during the pandemic. We’ve lost jobs, loved ones, incomes and our social lives. Living and working remotely has also meant we are losing our empathy for colleagues. This is especially true of business leaders and executives who need to be able to understand the problems their employees are grappling with as we leave lockdown.

This loss in our ability to empathize with one another is not new. In 2018, 51 per cent of Brits said they thought it was declining, compared with just 12 per cent who thought it was increasing. The pandemic has supercharged this. We are looking at one another through screens and heavily ensconced in our own worlds, so it is difficult to expand our awareness to people with different experiences.

There is a crucial difference between empathy and sympathy. To sympathize with someone means we feel sad for their misfortune. Empathy, on the other hand, means understanding and sharing the feelings of another.

Throughout the pandemic, most of us have been able to sympathize with those who have lost jobs or family members. We have been able to feel compassion for those living in cramped quarters. But by being physically separated from them, we have not been able to truly understand and empathize with those people.

We have become distanced from our employees and, more widely, our customers – the

majority of who increasingly want to deal with companies and brands that demonstrate their care for people and the planet. As offices start to reopen, it is vital we can act with empathy towards our staff and those we serve. This is crucially important for those at the top of businesses, who have kept their jobs and had a different experience of the pandemic.

In order to understand the customers and people they are serving, business leaders need to be able to understand their staff. There is a huge array of experience just waiting to be tapped into to create a more empathetic work environment. Some communities are more tight-knit than others and have had better support systems throughout lockdown. Younger workers may have been more isolated and need more help and encouragement returning to the office.

Often senior executives have more in common with other senior executives than their customers and other target audiences, such as staff. Therefore, learning how to rebuild lost empathy will mean spending more time with the people you’ve never met. To lead with listening and not opining, to immerse yourself first-hand in the real-world experience of your customers’ lives rather than just reading reports about them.

On a practical level, this might look like asking for written feedback from staff on their experience of lockdown. It could also mean trying to spend time in the office coffee shop. Appearing physically accessible to employees will encourage conversations that can never happen over email.

There is also a place for data, but not as we know it. In today’s big data era, digital interaction between companies and customers means businesses have access to more data than ever before. Sourcing the most valuable data isn’t the only challenge. When there is an over-reliance on endless sheets of numbers it can be difficult to define behaviors. There is a risk of losing a richness of understanding. One-on-one interviews with staff or customers can be more useful than “big data”.  It can be costly and time-consuming and, because  of this, it often gets left behind.

However, with so much of the same data out there, it is in the small, slow data that the most striking insights can be found – nuanced findings that can make all the difference between people thinking you and your business are empathetic, or not.

By:   Joint Chief Strategy Officer at BBH London

Source: Remote living has eroded our empathy and executives must find a way to understand their staff – CityAM : CityAM

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Would you consider yourself an empathetic person at work? Are you always willing to lend an ear to your co-worker’s latest band practice drama, or would you prefer to keep conversations at the corporate level?

A recent survey conducted for the 2018 State of Workplace Empathy reported that a whopping 96% of respondents rated empathy as an important quality for companies to demonstrate. Despite this, 92% of employees believe that empathy remains undervalued at their company, which is an increase from results in prior years.

Empathy is described as not just understanding another person’s perspective, but truly putting yourself in their shoes and feeling those emotions alongside that person. It’s a cornerstone of emotional intelligence, and when a workplace demonstrates empathy, there are countless studies that correlate it to increased happiness, productivity, and retention amongst employees.

Empathy Helps Explain How Parental Support Can Prevent Teen Delinquency

A new study of nearly 4,000 school children has found that youngsters who feel they have empathic support from their parents and caregivers are verging away from a wide range of delinquent behavior, such as committing crimes.

Published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Moral Education, the research, which drew on data surveying children over a four year period from when they were aged 12 to 17, also shows that those who received empathy were less likely to execute acts of serious delinquent behavior, compared to those who simply felt they had supportive parents.

In addition, the new findings — out today — demonstrate that parents/caregivers who display greater empathy enhance their teenagers’ own development of empathy, or the ability to acknowledge and understand the feelings of others.

The results follow an investigation of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children data source, which features a series of interviews with 3,865 boys and girls across Australia over the period when delinquent behavior first tends to appear.

Author of the paper, Professor Glenn Walters from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, USA, states his findings demonstrate that parental support, as perceived by the child, plays a “small but significant role” in the development of empathy in early adolescent youth.

The Associate Professor of Criminal Justice adds: “Empathy in youth also appears to have the power to mediate the negative association between perceived parental support and future juvenile delinquency.”

The study was launched to expand on results of several previous articles which investigated the relationship between parental support and delinquent behavior in teenagers. The proposition is that strong parental support reduces the propensity for such behavior. However, the results have been mixed.

Forensic psychologist Professor Walters wanted further clarification. Could parental support and delinquent behavior include an indirect relationship, rather than direct, and be mediated by another factor: high levels of empathy?

To find out, he first scrutinized two interview sessions where the children were asked about their level of parental support as they perceived it, and their development of empathy. To determine parental support, they were asked to rate statements such as “I trust my parents” and “I talk to my parents.” To assess empathy, they were asked to rate statements such as “I try to empathize with friends,” and “I try to make others feel better.”

In the final session, when they were 16 or 17, they were asked how often they had engaged in 17 delinquent acts in the past year. These acts varied in their seriousness, from drawing graffiti in a public place to purposely damaging or destroying property to using force or the threat of force to get money or things from someone.

Using a variety of statistical techniques, Professor Walters found that empathy did indeed appear to mediate the relationship between parental support and delinquent behavior. Children who reported more parental support tended to have higher levels of empathy, and these children were less likely to engage in delinquent behavior.

“What the current study adds to the literature on the parental support-delinquency relationship is a mechanism capable of further clarifying this relationship,” Walters says. “The mechanism, according to the results of the present study, is empathy.”

He does concede, however, that other factors such as social interest and self-esteem may also play a role in mediating the relationship between parental support and teenage delinquency, and says these factors should be explored in future research.

Walters also suggests, in future research, empathy should be measured from a younger age and that new criminalities such as cybercrime — not included in this data set — should be assessed.

By Taylor & Francis Group

Source: Empathy helps explain how parental support can prevent teen delinquency: Study on 4,000 children monitored over four years, finds children who felt their parents were empathic were less likely to commit serious crime — ScienceDaily

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Journal Reference:

  1. Glenn D. Walters. In search of a mechanism: mediating the perceived parental support–delinquency relationship with child empathy. Journal of Moral Education, 2021; 1 DOI: 10.1080/03057240.2021.1872511
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Why Empathy Is One of the Most Overlooked Skills in Business

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It was a sunny day in April. The air was crisp and the walk ahead of us enjoyable.I stared at the beautiful Embarcadero situated near our office, feeling grateful for working close to such a stunning view.

Then I shifted my gaze over to Tim, my walking mate for the afternoon. We were on one of many walking meetings we’d shared over the past year. But this time was different. Tim, a normally talkative employee, was dragging his heels and appeared disgruntled whenever I asked for status updates. He kept his head down, answering only in curt replies.Something was off.

As his supervisor, I could have easily approached his behavior with a stern stance, by grilling him, or asserting my authority. But 14-plus years of have taught me one thing: A harsh, adversarial response is never the answer.Instead, I slowed my pace and asked him how things were going at home. “Is everything OK?”

Tim confided then that his father had recently had a , and that he was taking turns spending nights at the hospital, leaving him tense and run-down. I nodded. “I’m so sorry, that sounds very hard.”“How can I support you?” I offered.

We spent some time talking over how to alleviate some of his load at work, and even scheduled some days off for him to be with his family.After our conversation, it was as if a weight had been lifted. In our meeting afterward, he began eagerly participating, even offering feedback I hadn’t asked for.

Showing genuine care and concern only took a few seconds of my time, but it was enough to let Tim know that I was on his side.

One of the most overlooked skills in business

Empathy — the capacity to recognize and understand other people’s feelings, to “put oneself in someone else’s shoes” is a critical leadership skill. tells us that it’s a basic human quality most founders would have in their arsenal, but in fact, it’s one that many leaders often get wrong.

In a commencement speech on June 15, 2014, American business magnate and philanthropist, , stood before an audience of Stanford grads and spoke of channeling optimism into a conviction to make things better.

“If we have optimism, but we don’t have empathy,” he said, “then it doesn’t matter how much we master the secrets of science. We’re not really solving problems; we’re just working on puzzles.”

This has been true to my experience as the CEO of my company . We started with one goal: Create a drag-and-drop tool that enabled people to quickly build forms, even if they didn’t know how to code. As a software engineer, I’ll be the first one to say I’m the biggest nerd I know. I enjoy taking a complex issue and making it easy and accessible.

I’ve had the privilege of growing our small startup to a business with over 250 employees and seven million users worldwide. And what I’ve learned from being a founder all these years is that people, not software, matter most. Connecting with our team and our customers is the real vision that keeps us moving forward. I believe the secret to our success lies in empathy.

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Beyond sympathy

Our culture admires a certain business stereotype: the die-hard leaders who push the envelope and only care about themselves. But at what price? A shortage of empathy in the workplace accounts for an increasing lack of employee engagement, which impacts productivity. This costs businesses more than $600 billion per year.

How does this happen? Simple: by confusing empathy with sympathy. Sympathizing — feeling sorry for an employee’s situation isn’t the same as understanding their feelings and needs, or building rapport.

Instead of becoming annoyed with their employees or commanding them to pick up the slack, effective leaders know how to express themselves by showing real concern and asking how they can improve the situation.

While valuable, sympathy is only a surface-level response that keeps you at a distance. Empathy, on the other hand, is a perspective shift — it’s genuinely imagining yourself being in the other person’s shoes, and allows you to connect on a deeper level.

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Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com

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You’ll be much more successful with your sales and marketing efforts if you’re genuine. And how do you become more genuine? ✨👉 Empathize. Check out Bob here: https://www.instagram.com/bobbonniol/ https://bonniol.com
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