Empathy is all about understanding things from someone else’s perspective. And for anyone in business, it’s an often overlooked but fundamentally important trait.
Empathy touches everything from how employees and coworkers perceive you to a customer’s experience using your products or services. And while some dismiss it as overly “touchy-feely” or “wimpy and emotional,” practicing empathy is linked directly to financial gains, so ignore it at your peril.
Why Empathy is Essential for Every Business
According to the Harvard Business Review, empathy means understanding our emotional impact on others and making changes as a result. “It’s more important to a successful business than ever, correlating to growth, productivity, and earnings per employee,” HBR explained.
Need proof? Check out the annual the Global Empathy Index, which analyzes 170 publicly traded companies for ethics, leadership, company culture, brand perception, and public social media messaging.
“The top 10 companies on the Empathy Index increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50% more earnings.”
How Entrepreneurs & Leaders Can Practice Better Empathy in 3 Easy Steps
Here at Fundamental, we build strong growth capital relationships starting with a face-to-face understanding of our clients’ needs, fears, and goals. And we’re always listening for ways to make our services more simple and responsive.
So when we came across a list of Top Ways to Cultivate Empathy by renowned leadership experts SYPartners, we took notice.
SYPartners is a cutting-edge management consultancy and product-design firm. They created Unstuck, an award-winning app that helps people understand what’s holding them back and how to move forward. They also provide leadership consulting to an array of Fortune 500 companies.
According to SYPartners, empathy enables leaders to “build stronger teams, design more ingenious solutions, and deepen their emotional intelligence—an increasingly covetable skill in the next era of business.”
Try these 3 proven ways to practice empathy today:
1. Take off your armor—empathy begets empathy – Your ability to feel emotions is what triggers them in others. If you want to connect with someone, you have to let yourself be vulnerable, too.
ACTION: When a colleague asks how you’re doing, don’t respond with a knee-jerk, “Fine, how are you?” Share something specific about how you feel in that moment. Or kick off your next meeting with a “pulse-check”—inviting the team to share what they’re excited or anxious about—instead of jumping right into business.
2. Don’t just be there. Be present – As Oprah often says: “Every human being is looking for one thing, and that is to be validated, to be seen and to be heard.” Your job as a leader is to help others know they matter.
ACTION: Set an example for your team how to give your full attention when it matters most. In your next meeting, close your laptop, turn your smartphone screen down (or hey, even put it away), and listen attentively.
3. Go see for yourself – It’s hard to get perspective when you sit at a desk every day. To better understand who you’re serving or collaborating with, go to them where they are and observe their routines.
ACTION: Identify something your team needs to understand more deeply (e.g., another function in your organization; a customer experience; the habits of your user-base). Then go on a “seeing exploration” to observe it: Look for rituals, gaps, and frustrations. If possible, ask your subjects questions to enrich your findings.
Try these innovative ways to employ empathy and let us know if you see great results, too. And if you or your clients seek a funding partner who knows that successful growth depends on taking the time to truly understanding people, find out more about Fundamental Financial today.