Biz tip of the week: Develop your empathy skills
Last week we touched on the importance of being empathetic. Empathy may be the single most important trait necessary for building deep, meaningful relationships. Developing your empathy skills can make you stand out as someone special amongst your peers, both personally and professionally.
Empathy allows you to take a genuine interest in someone else’s life. When the other person senses you care about their well-being, it triggers the release of oxytocin in their brain. Oxytocin is an extremely powerful chemical as it creates a feeling of trust. For example, during childbirth, oxytocin is released which creates the bond of trust between mother and child. Trust serves as the catalyst to developing close relationships.
Empathy is a skill that anyone can develop. Try these tips:
Invest time in cultivating a sense of curiosity for other people. This sense of curiosity will lead to asking deeper questions. Good listening skills are essential as well. Talk to new people from diverse backgrounds, and actively listen to those around you. Focus on the interests and needs of others. When you identify a true need, take action to solve the problem or reduce their pain.
It is important to be honest about how you feel. Be willing to own, admit, and express your fears, insecurities and other emotions. Avoid the temptation to be judgmental and go to extra efforts to forgive people. Challenge your own preconceptions and prejudices.
Finally, use your imagination and try to place yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel, and how would being in their circumstances affect your life?
Developing your sense of empathy will make people appreciate and respect you more. Virtually all your relationships may improve. It will make you a more effective manager and can certainly create opportunities for you in the future.
What can you do today to improve your empathy skills?
Bill Nordbrock is vice president of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit that offers free small-business counseling. For more information, go to southernarizona.score.org or call 520-505-3636.
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