Communication has been an important tool in our interaction with other humans. For a long time, people and organizations have focused only on passing their messages without regard to how the receiver feels. However, recently there has been a shift in the type of communication being had.
Many people and organizations are now focusing on empathic communication. This has been extended to their employees and even customers and prospective customers. But what is this empathic communication, and how do we determine who communicates empathically?
Empathic communication is where the people interacting listen to other people’s different viewpoints and opinions and share them.
Empathic communication involves actively listening to the communicator to understand the emotions of the person you are interacting with.
Naturally, this means that an empathic communicator puts themselves in the other person’s shoes and uses words that will make the individual feel safer and supported to express themselves. To be an empathic communicator, you must be mindful of your tone of voice. You also have to make understanding and compassion your top priorities in everyday interactions with people.
In the workplace, many organizations are shifting focus to empathic communication because they understand the importance of listening and engaging in conversation with their employees. Most business consultants and employees believe that empathy is an essential skill for leaders in the workplace. The capacity to step into someone’s shoes and understand their situation and problems is a great skill that can build confidence and trust. But must we practice empathic communication, and why is empathy important in communication?
Empathic communication is not a marketing tactic or a performative act to gain or retain customers. It is an important part of emotional expression and presents a way of connecting. To be an effective leader or a great team member, you must imbibe empathic communication. When you truly listen, connect, and relate to somebody, they are more open to trusting you and remaining loyal to the organization or ideals you share.
Communication without empathy is communication without understanding and compassion. This sort of conversation is unlikely to be civil and effective. Admittedly, empathy is not a skill that comes equally to everyone. Some leaders are more empathetic than others. All hope is not lost, though, as there are strategies you can use to improve their empathic communication.
Four Ways to Communicate With Empathy
1. Active Listening
As far as empathic communication is concerned, listening is as important as speaking. When we talk about listening, we refer to active listening, which involves paying full attention to the speaker, understanding their perspective, and replying when appropriate. Demonstrating active listening can create understanding and improve your bond with the speaker. As a business leader serious about empathic communication, your behavior should show that you are willing to hear about the situation and address it if you can.
2. Acknowledge People’s Experience
As an empathic communicator, you do not need to agree with what people say before you can acknowledge it or help them find a solution. Even if you can’t solve the problem, it is a mark of an empathic communicator to acknowledge the issue and the effect it has on the person. This shows the person or team member that you are aware of the situation and care for their well-being. If they are sad or anxious, acknowledge those feelings and assure them that you are committed to finding working solutions to the cause of those feelings. It is necessary to remain transparent and forthcoming and use simple sentences and languages to make your team’s understanding easier.
As a leader, your team members will come to you with various problems, some of these problems are within your powers to solve, and some are problems you can’t do anything about. Your team members do not know this, so it is crucial to listen to them as they make their complaints so they can feel heard and validated. For those complaints that you have the power to rectify, you can assure them that the issue will be addressed and then go ahead to address the issue. Being an empathic communicator goes beyond acknowledging the issues. It also involves acting on those issues that have been acknowledged.
An empathic communicator focuses on how a challenge might affect the team members or staff and sets out to rectify the challenge. For empathic communicators, mindfulness, compassion, and understanding are the hallmarks of their conversations with people. Learning how to communicate with empathy is crucial as a business leader, as it will help you understand your team members’ challenges and problems. It will also help you proffer solutions to their problems.
Being an empathic communicator is important as it will help team members feel validated and happier and improve their loyalty to the company.