Empathy (noun): The ability to understand and share the feelings of someone else.

*Strictly, empathy does not mean the same thing as sympathy. The difference is that when you say you have empathy for someone, you understand and share their feelings, whereas if you have sympathy for them, you feel sorry for them.

Verb forms: empathise or empathize.

Gone are the days of working as loners where each person worked as per his or her style. Now with the constantly changing business concepts and philosophies where customers, targets, deadlines etc. are the key ruling factors, it has become essential that we work together as teams. More increasingly, personal well-being of individual team members has gained importance. Working together as a team involves a great deal of work where lot of dynamics are involved. This is where empathy plays a key role in establishing good relationships.

A great deal of work where lot of dynamics are involved. This is where empathy plays a key role in establishing good relationships.

kindness21Empathy, essentially is being able to see from another person's perspective. It is always good; and when working together; very important to acknowledge other people's emotions - sad, angry, upset, ecstatic, confused etc. while still remembering that those are their emotions, not ours. We should try to understand where those feelings come from, but bear in mind that we are NOT responsible for them. This is where most disasters occur when people fail to understand that they are not responsible for other people's emotions.

Empathy begins with listening. EQ Consultant Chris Casper pointed out that "Nobody in life will listen to us unless they feel we have listened to them." This is so very true! Someone who is empathetic listens and responds, and cannot help but display sensitivity and concern. This establishes a connection with people. People who lack empathy are more focused on their own needs and they pay little or no attention to anyone else's. No connection can be ever made with such a person.

Being tuned to customers or clients' needs and emotional responses is particularly important in the service industry where empathy plays a major role at all levels; in reading a client's cues, in working as a team of members from different departments, in working as a team with members of diverse cultural and socio-economical backgrounds and experiences. Empathy works like a glue that binds the group together to work successfully as one team.

Some Techniques for Enhancing Empathy:

**Look for nonverbal cues as well as listening for verbal ones. Studies show that words account for only a small part of our communication. Tone and speed of speech is significantly more whereas the most significant and the most important part of speech is the body language, posture, eye contact and facial expressions. Be attentive while listening. Exhibiting nonattentive behaviors such as frequently looking away, fiddling with your pen, pencil etc., twiddling your fingers, changing your body position at intervals etc. will break the connection that the person is trying to establish with you. It will also mean that you are not interested in that person's talk.

**Share and be honest about your own feelings. Good communication leads to trust.

**Be consistent so that your spoken and unspoken messages match. You want what you are saying to match what you are doing. This proves that you are being honest or authentic, which builds trust. Eg. smile genuinely when you tell someone that you are glad to see them. If your smile does not reach your eyes, this means you are lying. Therefore, mean what you say!

**Always take the kinder road whenever possible. There are many positive ways to deliver criticismWU5-4164734._f100_1201and opinions. You can be honest and still give a positive feedback that increases confidence. Constructive feedback increases competence. Using both shows that you genuinely mean well and want to help that person to succeed.

In short try to see from other person's point of view. Empathy is about imagining what it would be like to walk in someone else's shoes. Go ahead and give the people the benefit of doubt. We ought to assume that everyone is doing their best and be sure to let them know that.



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