Empathy Could be Your Biggest Business Advantage

Joe Weinlick
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When you have problems to solve at work, one way to find the right answers more quickly is to develop empathy and emotional intelligence. Genuine, authentic communication with your teammates results in a better flow of ideas as workers can open up to each other and talk with each other more effectively. Here's how to use empathy to your business advantage.

How to Start

Develop empathy by learning how to read nonverbal cues. When you read these cues, you create rapport with employees. This doesn't mean you point out a person's behavior based on the cues. Reading cues means you respond appropriately.

Another thing to realize is that you don't need to be right. Listen to the other person's point of view and actually care about it. This leads to learning about other people, better agreements among employees and a rapport among staff. If you automatically think your opinion is right and everyone else's is wrong, it leads to discontent and fights because you don't bother to listen to what other people think.

Develop Empathy Through Understanding

Come from a place where you want to understand others rather than needing your colleagues to understand you. When you understand where the other person is coming from, you delve into how to motivate him to do something. Understanding another person happens when you help him become more self-aware.

For example, a co-worker shows up chronically late and you want to solve the problem. You reach out to the person and ask what's going on. You discover the employee is going through a divorce and needs to take the kids to school. Once you realize this, you can adjust the person's work schedule to match the new life circumstances going on outside the office. The grateful employee then comes in the next day a bit less stressed and ready to work.

Emotional Intelligence

Develop empathy as part of emotional intelligence. You couldn't empathize with the co-worker getting a divorce if you didn't ask about his circumstances in the first place. Emotional intelligence starts from within yourself, so practice how to get in touch with your own feelings before attempting to empathize with other people's emotions.

Take care of yourself and do more things that make you happy. When a feeling bubbles up into your consciousness, notice and name it so you can recall what that feeling is when you notice it in other people. Take a mental break when you find yourself becoming less empathetic and more abrasive. Ask questions of those around you to find out how they feel, and validate others' emotions rather than critiquing how they feel.


When you develop empathy, you create several benefits at the office within your team. Your staff feels more involved in decision-making processes, and your open-door policy for discussing feedback makes workers more at ease with your leadership. Listen ardently when teammates talk about challenges they are trying to overcome.

Emotional intelligence at work unlocks every employee's true potential. Rather than just a supervisor, people see you as a mentor when you develop empathy, and they turn to you for advice. Perhaps the most important business advantage occurs when your team works efficiently to meet the company's goals because it recognizes you as a true leader.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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