Empathy In The Workplace

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Is being empathetic towards your boss taboo? Is caring about your company’s success considered being a do gooder? I have been wanting to write about this topic for sometime, but I have struggled to put into words. I have been on both sides of the table, mangement and employee; I have had the amazing opportunity to see both sides of the story and work with some fabulous individuals. Today I read an article which you can click here to read about empathy in the workplace, it really spoke to me and opened up about how I want to show you that empathy really works for both sides.

So lets start simple, what is the definition of empathy?

“The ability to identify with or understand another’s situation or feelings” – Freedictionary.com

This is a relatively straight forward definition, which I really like! When reflecting back on both the small and the large companies I have worked for, I found that I could easily relate to certain people because one of the reason was that I could empathise with their situation.

In the rat race of this day and age, some people are more concered with their career, how much money they want to be making and not taking the time to absorb their work surroundings. An example could be that an ambitious person is working in a small to medium company, in which they have gone as far as they can in the career ladder and are recieving quite a healthy pay cheque. However they are not satisfied and are pushing management for more responisbilities and/or a bigger pay cheque. On the otherside of the coin the company can only give the yearly raise that matches inflation because their books can’t afford anything higher for that position. What should the employee do? The apathetic (opposite of empathetic) would push or manipulate the employer to get what they want, whereas the empathetic person might consider that they patiently wait for the company to increase in profit/business or to look for another job elsewhere that could benefit them in monetary concerns.

How many people do you know have been in this situation, where they apathetic or empathetic? Everyone scenario is different and sometimes there is not a straight forward solution, but sometimes it helps to go “why is this person “x” not giving me “y”, maybe there are “a,b and c” holding them back?” Giving yourself that little time to assess the situation, it might just be the perfect way to find a solution?! I also wrote a post on how to negotiate like a boss, which might help you prep to talk with your manager!

Now I flip the coin over to the otherside, the management side. In the article by Forbes, the author Jayson Boyers speaks about two way communication. I will use the same explantion before but in role reversal, you are talking with your colleague and they are pressuring you for pay raise. If you stop to think why and ask questions around the job, hours, job description, job pressures etc… you can discover the real reason behind it an act accordingly. If you cannot meet your colleagues need and they are not being negotiable, then due to listen and talking with them you could offer other alternatives; such as department shifts or even helping them by giving a glowing reference. But you never know they might just be happy you listened and are happy to wait for a period of time to talk about pay again.

Being empathetic can enhance your ability to solve workplace issues, not only with negotiating but hard projects and possibly designing workplace procedures and policies. Empathy should not be taboo it should be a workplace criteria!

To a better work environment,

Zoe

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