7 Top Tips to improve your empathy

7 Top Tips to improve your empathy

Jann Richardson, personal and professional coach, shares her 7 top tips to improve your empathy.

Some of the most successful people and organisations are empathetic. Businesses and managers that aren’t empathetic risk losing staff because they show little understanding for their people. After a while this affects morale and employees leave to find a more supportive company.

Empathetic people tend to be more generous & concerned with other peoples’ welfare. They also tend to have happier relationships and greater overall well being.

Here are my 7 top tips to improve your empathy and reap the rewards:

  1. Listen without interrupting – Truly listening can be a challenge. Sometimes we are just waiting to give our own opinion. Or we step in to either finish what the other person’s saying or acknowledge what they are saying too quickly. Be patient and listen.
  2. Be fully engaged – When someone is speaking to you, put away your phone, don’t check your email, and don’t accept calls. Studies show that the things we say account for just 7% of what we are trying to communicate. The other 93% of the message that we communicate when we speak is in our tone of voice and body language. If all you’re doing while you speak with someone is listening to what they are saying while you keep checking your emails, you’ll miss the bulk of what is being communicated.
  3. Smile – Smiles are contagious. The part of your brain responsible for this facial expression is the cingulate cortex, which is an unconscious automatic response area. Smiling releases feel good chemicals in the brain, activates reward centers, and increases health.
  4. Use their name and be encouraging – Encouraging people can be as simple as nodding at them while they talk in a meeting. This simple gesture, along with using their name, can make great impact on relationship building.
  5. Listen to people whose beliefs you don’t share – One good way to approach differing beliefs in conversation is to say, “That’s interesting, how did you develop that idea?” or “Tell me more.” This tip might come in handy during a discussion on politics!
  6. Give genuine recognition – Move past “ you did a great job” and give specific compliments like, “Your research on this difficult topic is thorough” or “Thank you. I would have missed that detail if you hadn’t pointed it out.”
  7. Have deeper conversations – Understanding a person’s point of view or personal challenges requires conversation that moves past the weather. This doesn’t mean you should ask your colleague about private matters. Start by sharing a little more of your own experiences and perspectives and see if your colleague joins in.

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