Now More Than Ever, Empathy and EQ Are Critical

Empathy by Aslan Media of Flickr

THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL POST.

Now more than ever, in a divided country in conflict, organizations and employees will need to find ways to bridge the chasms that continue to grow between ideologies in order to enable an optimized future for us all.

Should these adults just be able to suck it up, work together, focus on the task at hand and get business done? Well, yes. However, studies we have cited in the past have proven that happiness impacts profits, and in this blog our focus is on EQ and empathy, and their impact on profits. Also, we will focus on what YOU as a leader (whether or not you are a manager) can do TODAY to be empathetic, raise your EQ, improve the everyday experience of being at work, and contribute to greater profits.

Why should profits be so important? Because the profitability of businesses enables prosperity by ways of job creation, wage growth, higher spending, and improved quality of life. If there is one thing that can unify us, it is that we would all love to live better.

Empathy is the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and see things from their perspective. It requires NOT making assumptions, but rather actively listening to someone else’s story, insights, beliefs and concerns without discrediting or judging them.

Employees with a high EQ (Emotional Quotient) possess the ability to be empathetic. It can be taught or innate, it is facilitated by having a curiosity of others, and a desire to seek to understand. When you have a high EQ, you are not prone to mislabeling others’ emotion, and certainly not calling people names.

Daniel Goleman has purported that EQ is even more important than IQ. Why? It is the human in us all. It is the fundamental desire for love and acceptance. Most of us have our physiological needs met, and beyond feeling safe, Maslow identified that people want to be loved and want to belong. Nothing gets done without people. The fastest way to accomplish anything is through people, even in an age of automation. You still need people to approve, implement and maintain automated systems.

It makes sense, though: The more self-actualized your people are, the better they will perform.

Conversely, failing to address a sense of alienation will promote segmentation and silos that will increase unnecessary bureaucratic and political obstacles to collaboration, creativity, and progress.

What are your alternatives to using empathy to confront conflicts that exist OUTSIDE of business to avoid those obstacles?

Hire only people who agree. Have only customers and vendors who agree.

Good luck with that.

What you can do is simple in that it does not require complex steps, but it is challenging, because it does require that you acknowledge and dismiss your ego when it starts to want to make sure you’re right, that you look good, and that the other person is wrong and looks bad.

WE ALL DO IT! It is just that people with a high EQ can distinguish between an ego response and an empathy response.

 

STEP 1 – ASK

Ask the other person questions that help you understand why something is so important to them. What you might have thought was a lack of values, is really just a difference in experience that places a higher priority on different values. This can take place in a workshop or team-building environment, or it can be a simple one-on-one.

 

STEP 2 – LISTEN

Active listening means that you are listening with the intention of understanding, not responding. If you do not understand something, ask more. I will warn you that the second a person senses that they are being judged, the energy of the exchange shifts. Judging is something we all do. It is okay to admit that you are human. If you recognize that your judgments are interfering with your understanding, admit your fault and reassert your desire to achieve an understanding. It will humble you and put you both back on equal, human ground.

 

STEP 3 – DON’T DEFEND

The purpose of this conversation is NOT to explain yourself. That is your ego’s need to be understood. If the other person has a high EQ, they may be curious about your point of view, too. Be very careful not to negate what they say as untrue, invalid, or irrelevant. You are able to share your point of view without doing that, and this is a practice of EQ.

That’s it. That’s all it takes to start practicing empathy and raising your EQ.

Of course, you can take this practice very far, and the farther you take it, the more you will contribute to your company and the faster you will grow in your career.

Curious how high your EQ is? Take this quiz.

 

If you’re curious to what I have done to improve my own EQ, it was the Landmark Forum. There is one near you. I went in 2008 to help manage the stress that I experienced dealing with other people’s shortcomings only to discover and appreciate the beauty of being human, imperfectly perfect… or perfectly imperfect… or BOTH.

Share with me (us) some ways that empathy (or lack thereof) has been impacting your work life.

 

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