Empathy is vital to creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive work environment. Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes and understand what they're going through. It's also a key trait shared by great leaders. People who are empathetic tend to be more emotionally intelligent. If you're not the most empathetic person, don't worry; it's a trait that can be developed. Here are 4 ways to increase your empathy for others:
Listen. Research shows listening to other people from different walks of life can impact our empathy levels. Organizations should create opportunities for leaders to engage in this dialogue and let employees voice their concerns and experiences in a non-threatening environment.
Slow down. Slowing down is one way we can connect with others. Resist the urge to multi-task. Studies show when we try to multi-task, we end up doing both tasks more poorly than if we had performed each task separately.
Be curious. People who are more curious also tend to be more empathetic. Try to interact with people, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions allows the other person to feel heard and valued.
Volunteer. Research shows volunteering may increase empathy levels. Organizations should incorporate volunteering opportunities into the corporate structure. Partnering with charitable organizations is one solution. Aside from increasing employee empathy levels, volunteer opportunities also help employees feel like they're making a difference.
For more on the importance of empathy in a diverse and inclusive workplace, click here.