The Power of Empathy

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In daily interactions with customers, partners and fellow employees, we are plunged in the endless flux of the working environment, where standing still comes at a high cost and requires constant investment of human capital capable of maintaining the pillar of any company: offer products or services that provide a value exceeding the money invested by both parties, the customer and the supplier.

However, behind all this web of business contracts, sales and meetings, there is always a common denominator: people. In my opinion, sometimes we overlook the fact that it is not only important to be good at what we do, but also how we do it and with what attitude. This undoubtedly is a key factor for successful people and consequently successful companies.

What has lately become popular is the investment
companies make in courses on emotional intelligence, development of communication skills, negotiation and others. More and more we are becoming aware of the importance of strengthening the “human” part of the business. It is a key element in organizations occurring throughout, regardless of the area worked in. At the end of the day, behind these relationships are individuals; the same ones who form part of a great team sharing the same goal: successful business and careers.

I must confess that the title of this article “The Power of Empathy” was chosen for its force and the interest it might arouse in the reader. The idea is that the reader clicks the link, but also does so in his or her mind. The purpose, to the extent possible, is to listen to others more actively, as we spend too much time listening to others, only to respond and not understand our fellowmen. They teach us that we have to respond to stimuli—the sooner the better—and we even should anticipate circumstances by being proactive. Nevertheless this is not just about hearing; it is about listening, avoiding interrupting the other and holding an attentive and sincere attitude. In a nutshell, we have to know how to listen, how to understand.

By actively listening to others, we get to know the person we are talking to, as well as their skills, knowledge, tastes, way of speaking and their attitude in general. Similarly we get to know the individual’s personality, a notion covered in many books, but one I simply define as who you are, what your roots are and how you show yourself and interact with the world around you. As we get to know people, we realize that we each have our own expectations, particular vision, specific character and different ways of performing a job. For this reason, and because sooner or later we will have to interact with others, either with a client or with a partner, we cannot treat everyone the same way and from the same point of view. We are too complex and different to do it unilaterally, “This is how I am and this is my personality; like it or not.”

As professional relationships unfold, we gradually discover who is behind the emails, how they express themselves, the manner and tone they use when addressing others. All this helps us to get more information to make it easier to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. This brings a more all-round view so that professional relationships become more productive for both parties: a win-win.

If we take note and learn from the person who is behind the routine tasks of our daily lives, we will be more empathetic and communicate better. At the same time, we will strengthen trusted relationships in our environment, paving the way for transmitting optimism and motivation to those around us.

Sometimes, simply the way you convey the message or handle a situation from a conciliatory position has a very different effect on the receptor. Although we obviously cannot control others, we can control our reactions to their actions. So, why not give it a try?

By Jorge Valentiner, Software Quality Assurance Engineer, Meta4

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