Empathy is a skill which is often overlooked in the workplace. Determined by Frans de Waal as the “social glue that holds human society together,” empathy refers to the awareness of one’s own and other people’s feelings, needs and concerns. Having the ability to be empathetic has been proven to prevent poor morale, misunderstandings and conflicts, consequently enabling a person to build significant and long-lasting relationships with others. Empathy therefore is the underrated key ingredient for both personal and professional success.
Empathy vs. sympathy: What’s the difference?
Even though many people believe empathy and sympathy are similar, they are in fact completely different qualities. Empathy is the ability to understand the thoughts, emotions and experiences of another individual, whereas sympathy provokes feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune. In other words, empathy is the ability to step into someone else’s shoes, being aware of her feelings and considerate of her needs.
How can you develop empathy in the workplace?