Belonging is Great. Tribalism? Not So Much

We all want to belong. It’s how we’re wired as humans. We sort ourselves into groups from high school (the nerds, theater geeks, jocks) and well into adulthood. Are you a soccer mom, a power player, a DINK, a Cubs fan, a wine snob?1

Some groups are more fun and innocuous than others. The game night junkies. The emo lovers. The golf buddies. The church ladies.

But we as humans crave connection and belonging so much that when we allow the Hogwarts Sorting Hat to put us into categories, it can feel safe but might have a dark side.

I’m Catholic, but have huge problems with how the Catholic church treats women, sexual abuse survivors, and the LGBTQ++ community.With my current moral, social, and political views,  I often feel like I’m on the outside looking in on this group I have belonged to my entire life. Religious affiliations in particular have been a source of divisions (and war, if we look at history) and have been used to oppress and deny rights to others outside of the “in” group. And don’t even get me started on many other so-called “God-fearing” con artists. Many of whom say one thing and do another in the name of their religion, especially when it comes to “loving your neighbor”and being kind to the poor and mistreated..  

These are not my people, nor my allies.

But see what I did there? I just “othered”another group that has different beliefs than me, painted them all with the same bias brush, and acted superior, as if my way is the only way.

Belonging is great. We can become part of a nurturing welcoming community. We can be who we really are, without fear of isolation or recrimination. We can build relationships and share resources.

But we must be very careful we don’t tip over the line into negative tribalism. 

Tribalism is the state of being organized by, or advocating for, tribes or tribal lifestyles. Human evolution has primarily occurred in small hunter-gatherer groups, as opposed to in larger and more recently settled agricultural societies or civilizations. With a negative connotation and in a political context, tribalism can also mean discriminatory behavior or attitudes towards out-groups, based on in-group loyalty. (source)

The negative aspects of tribalism look like:

  • Superiority/Supremacy
  • Oppression
  • Neglect
  • Closed-mindedness
  • Greed
  • Individualism (if you are not part of my tribe, I will not help you and your fate doesn’t matter to me)

All of it leading to a lack of empathy for anyone outside of our group. Some leading to violence when people “take sides”such as in cases of soccer (football) hooliganism or worse, MIddle Eastern identities and claims.

We must be vigilant in creating groups that honor inclusivity – and leave the door open to others to walk through, as well as leave the window open so we can hear the needs and contexts of others outside of the group we are in. Tribalism leads to the worst kind of nationalism – the kind that makes me right and you wrong and causes me to defend cruelty, oppress openly, and refuse to get curious about others not like me.

Always seek inclusive connection and belonging. Stay curious, open, empathetic, and welcoming. Please don’t use belonging as a way to further divide into camps of hate. Whether that is in your own high school, club, neighborhood, office…or country.

Photo Credit:  Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash

Can’t Get Your Employees Back to the Office? Here’s Why

Recently, Delta CEO Ed Bastian talked to BusinessInsider about the real reason there is tension around the return to office (RTO). So simple. So ignored.

Your employees’ work and life patterns have been forever changed. Employees crave flexibility. They are not going back unless it works for them.

The Pandemic showed knowledge workers that it’s possible to be creative, productive, and connected while working remotely or even traveling. Companies didn’t stop innovating or selling goods and services. They even came up with new revenue streams. The lockdown forced many local businesses I know to finally dive into eCommerce because it was the only way to stay alive.

And workers learned how well they could balance personal and professional life working from home. They spend less time commuting. They can better deal with childcare, aging parents, and their own diverse needs – from being introverted to living with a disability – in better ways.  It opened employment opportunities to many talented workers who live far from big cities.

They thrived. And so did their work, and so did their businesses.

But the 2023 State of Workplace Empathy Report showed us the ridiculous gap between CEOs and their workforces. CEO on average tend to have come up learning older leadership styles. They of course adapted to the chaos of the last three years because they had to. And that led many workers to believe they had evolved their leadership styles as well.

But they didn’t. Many leaders thought – and still do – that all this flexibility was temporary and they can now go back to their regularly scheduled programming.

They never really evolved. They coped. And that is why they’re flipping back to what they know:

If I can’t see you, if you’re not in the same room, we can’t get any work done or achieve our ambitious goals.

It’s the only way they know how to lead and hold people accountable.

So basically, they learned nothing.

But workers learned a lot. They saw the promise of flexible work. They thrived in being able to fit in morning yoga, afternoon soccer games, and even being able to cover having a sick kid at home WHILE working hard. Many of them improved their mental health, got fit, and reconnected with their families.

Why on earth would they willingly go back to the way things were? Especially if the culture was lacking to begin with.

And so…some leaders, once again refusing to get it, think the answer is to “perkify” the office. Full-service cafeteria! Workout facilities! Cool new office space! On-site laundry!

I’ll be the first to admit, that is all super cool and generous. It’s empathetic to provide your workers with all the things they need to manage their life so they can contribute their highest potential to their work.

But it only works if going back to the office WORKS for your people. And it only works if you have a culture worth going back to office for.

For many people, it still doesn’t. They need that flexibility. What they gained working remotely still outweighs all the “perks” their company can offer onsite.

It’s not about getting people back to the office so leaders can feel more comfortable with how to manage them. What is the real reason you want them back in the office? Be honest!

  • Is it the investment in office space you make?
  • Is it wanting to support small local businesses that are struggling because workers are not coming downtown anymore?
  • Is it your discomfort or misunderstanding of how to collaborate and innovate remotely?

All of these reasons can be addressed with intentional learning, training, and experimentation. You can thoughtfully determine – with input from your people – what actually warrants in-person collaboration.  You can also minimize your discomfort through coaching and training or explore industry best practices to learn how to effectively lead in a hybrid world. 

Just because you don’t know how doesn’t mean you can’t learn!

But…there is one big reason that you need to be honest about:

Do you trust your people?

If you don’t, either you’re not hiring the right people, mistrust is rampant across the organization (you set the tone), or your leaders have connection and control issues that need attention.

And who wants to come back to an office culture like that?

Culture is an issue that can’t be solved by unwillingly dragging people back to the office. So stop forcing the genie back into the bottle and figure out how to stay flexible, upskill your leadership and enhance your culture.

Photo Credit: Anastasia Nelen, Unsplash

What Does Psychological Abuse at Work Look Like?

You never knew who would be crying in the office on any given day. Today, it was mine. Again. But I would not give them the satisfaction of seeing it.

See, my anger, powerlessness, and frustration come out as hot tears.  

They used to tell us not to “get emotional” at work. But what happens if you are treated like trash? Gaslit, shamed, mentally exhausted, and not at all eager to deliver great work as a result? You suffer – and so does the company’s bottom line.

Once (well, honestly, twice) upon a time, I had to work under psychologically abusive executives.

I don’t use the term “psychological abuse” lightly. I’m not being dramatic. It feels the exact same way as a mentally abusive romantic relationship I had.

From both work and personal, those scars run deep.

We’re not talking about a manager you get along with, or who has rigorous and unflinching performance standards.  It’s about someone who makes you question your very value, ability, worth – and sanity – on a daily basis.

As a Type A overachiever, this was not a case of a perfectionist boss stretching me to deliver my best work. This leader came into a highly functioning team – a team that had been operating seamlessly for almost six months while the leadership role was vacant – and decimated it.

We were all excited when this leader joined, to finally have someone steering the ship again. To learn and grow from them. To get exponentially better than we already were.

This leader, however, came in and first ignored us, then shamed us, then waged psychological warfare by pitting us against each other and often lying to make comparisons (“So and so turned in their budget plan already, why is yours not done?” PS: They hadn’t turned it in). Literally tearing us apart in every single meeting. 

To what end, I was never really sure.  It never had to be this way. All I know is that we went from a high-performing team to one by one leaving the company. 

Every now and then, I go back to that office in my mind and shudder. We were treated like naughty children, not professionals. Could we improve? Of course – everyone can. But leading with hostility, shame, and fear just never seemed like a sound strategy to me.

What Does Psychological Abuse Look Like at Work?

How do you know when your leader has crossed the line from being “tough and driven” to psychologically abusive?

  • You feel shame and blame. People are shamed in meetings with no warning or reason. Instead of constructive feedback, people are struck silent in embarrassment and shame. The conversation can’t move forward. 
  • Fear rules the workplace. People live in constant fear of the spotlight shining on them. Questioning their skills, feeling disempowered, and turning that abuse inward through depression, alcoholism, and other destructive behavior.
  • Your personal life suffers. You can’t sleep at night. You dread Monday morning, not because of the work but because of this one person. You spend most of your time trying to figure out how you can twist yourself into knots to please them and avoid the abuse (again, the sign of a romantic abuser) Not a great environment for innovation and creativity. 
  • The team starts trauma bonding. When a leader gets off on shame and humiliation and people have to warn and support each other like they are fighting a war, you know there’s a serious issue. Trauma bonding is when we literally feel like we’re in a bomb shelter together, fighting for survival, and it’s ALL. WE. CAN. TALK ABOUT. If toxic leadership dominates your lunchtime conversations and private DM’s, that’s a sure sign of abuse and means we’re all getting distracted from delivering great work.

How Can We Protect Ourselves from Psychological Abuse at Work

Knowing what I know now, older and wiser as they say, I see clearly the issue was not completely us.  This leader was clearly broken inside. 

But sharing advice to “protect ourselves” is hard. It’s a form of victim-blaming because it implies you are the one who needs fixing. 

We should not blame the victim of psychological work abuse, just as we wouldn’t blame the victim in an abusive marriage. This advice is meant to help you weather the storm – until the situation changes or you can get out.

Knowing what I know now,  I would fortify my ability to withstand it (although, frankly, no one should have to). I am more self-confident now and know my strengths and blind spots better so I can stand my ground. I would practice more self-care so my job didn’t define me. I could have sought counsel from trusted mentors outside of the company and might have more clearly seen this power play for what it was:  A desperate attempt by a broken person to inflict pain on others and prove something. 

I would have shored up my emotional intelligence skills to approach this person with more EQ and respond to them in a way that didn’t destroy my mental health.

The irony is that I actually did learn a lot about “the work” from this leader. But it was too high a price to pay. And how much more could I have learned if this had not been the established relationship? When they ended up supporting me and advocating for my promotion,, when I was no longer their direct report, I thought we had gotten through it. Until one final and unexpected attack threw me for a loop again – and I was glad to be moving on to a place where I was appreciated and supported. Where I didn’t have to go to work every day and feel bad about myself or live in fear.

Learn to recognize when your leaders have crossed the line from demanding high performance to psychological abuse.  Don’t be afraid of hard work, fair criticism, and learning lessons as you go. But if it starts to negatively impact your mental health, walk away.

No stellar performance review or promotion is worth that.

If you want to shore up emotional intelligence in your organization to avoid psychological abuse and create more collaboration, let’s talk. I can deliver a dynamic empathy workshop series and strategically advise on an integrated curriculum with my network of talented speakers and trainers. We can build psychological safety, critical communication, and trust building into the curriculum. Just reach out today and we’ll get the conversation going.

Photo Credit: Elisa Ventur Unsplash

Employees: Empathy is a Two-Way Street

We’ve been talking a lot about empathy in leadership. And after years at his, I’m realizing that many of us empathy activists might be perpetuating a problem: 

Some employees and team members think empathy is just a one-way street.

I’m not going to point any generational fingers at anyone, but many leaders I speak to in my workshops and keynotes are struggling with their, often younger, employees. These leaders are working  very hard to listen, engage, and connect with their teams. They are trying to embrace empathy.

But their team members are not extending the same courtesy

Empathy is not just a leader’s job. It’s a skill that everyone up and down the organization needs to strengthen and practice to ensure respect AND performance. (TWEET THIS!)

Here’s what I hear:

” I’m trying to be empathetic to my team, but when work slips and I ask for improved performance or extra commitment, I am instantly accused of not respecting boundaries.”

“I am bending over backwards to help my employee through some hard times, but now my team is working double-time to pick up the slack because the work still needs to get done.”

“I’m trying so hard to help everyone on my team who is affected by layoffs. Those who have to leave and those left behind. But I’m constantly met with anger, abuse, and disrespect. Where’s empathy for me? How can we get through this together? My health and stress are also suffering.”

We don’t have to “feel sorry” for leaders when we are in a bad position ourselves. Lord knows a few of them have made difficult situations all about them with absolutely zero empathy for their employees. 

But how about a little compassion up the chain, rather than just expecting it for ourselves?

Employees need to understand the larger context of what is going on in the business and the market.  It’s unreasonable to make demands or ask for a raise at the precise moment the company is laying off thousands of workers and cutting budgets. As I constantly tell my 8-year-old son: You’ve got to pick your moments.

If you as a team member want empathy from your leader, you need to extend it to them as well. Not everything can fall into a neat little box or be easy when times are tough, as they are right now in our economic uncertain times. Yes, stand up for yourself, set boundaries, take care of your mental health. 

All of us – leaders and workers – can show resilience. Show savvy. Show empathy.

We need to do the jobs we were hired to do – the company can’t perform and succeed if we don’t.  And we can be good teammates in a crisis. That might mean doing a bit more than expected, hopefully for a short period of time. But DO THE WORK.

If the work is too much, your skills are up to snuff, or you are simply overwhelmed – have THAT conversation with your manager. Find a way to solve the issues. Ask for help reprioritizing. Come up with creative solutions. Yes, maybe even work a few late nights to help your team through. Or perhaps, think about if you are really in the right role. I’m calling foul on those who use “lack of empathy” as a weapon when they simply can’t or won’t do the work – or won’t even temporarily do a little extra when tough times call for it.

Empathy is not just a leader’s job. It’s the job of everyone on the team to be empathetic to every human on the team – and that includes empathy for the leader. 

Photo credit: Ivan Aleksic

What Causes Quiet Quitting?

Your employees don’t have a commitment problem. You have a leadership and culture problem. 

Quiet quitting, in case you haven’t heard, means doing exactly what you’re required to do at your job and not a bit more. It’s really just a trending term for disengagement. Folks don’t outright quit but they fail to do more than the bare minimum, and they may or may not be quietly looking for a new gig on the side. And we even see a trend in schools with students who are burned out or overwhelmed.

Some senior leaders (read: Baby Boomers, or even Gen Xers that are my age, I admit) want to blame this on the same old thing they blame everything on: Today’s generation of workers are entitled, lazy, and want the world before they are willing to get any work done.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

When I worked in the corporate world before striking out on my own, I always used to tell my managers that the minute they needed to start worrying about me, was the minute I stopped being squeaky wheel, asking how we could do things differently, or playing devil’s advocate. And it was true. Ask anyone: I worked my a** off and delivered results, but I could be….well,” tenacious” might be a kinder word for it!

I remember the jobs and bosses that completely disempowered me. That never appreciated my contribution, or that robbed me of control over my career destiny. In those jobs, I started shutting up and looking elsewhere.

When employees are engaged and feel they are seen, heard, and valued – when they know their extra efforts have an impact – there is nothing they won’t do for you. 

Here’s the great news: Quiet quitting is not new – it’s just a trending hashtag now. (TWEET THIS!)

And it has never, ever been about the employee’s work ethic or talent. It’s always been about the environment they found themselves in and the people they work for and with. A smart person knows they should not give us their time, energy, or effort in a paid job unless they are receiving something in return. To call quiet quitting “laziness” or entitlement is just laziness and entitlement on the part of a MANAGER who wants to shift the blame.

Lead with empathy, actively listen, reward equitably, honor your people as human beings and proactively create an environment where employees can make a real impact and you will not have to worry about anyone quiet quitting on you. Full stop.

Photo credit: Charles Deluvio

More resources you may love:

Let’s Redefine Kind in Business

3 Leadership and Innovation Lessons from 100 Podcasts

Rebecca Friese on The Empathy Edge Podcast: How to Build a “Good” Culture

 Let’s Talk About A Better Workplace Culture

Seth Godin’s daily posts range from the inspirational to the tactical. The mundane to the philosophical. So when a post punches me in the gut, in the best possible way, it gets me thinking. Which is his goal: Stop existing. Start thinking. Disrupt the status quo.

Recently, he wrote a post called But First, We Need to Talk About. The gist is that what we are willing to talk about gets attention, resources, and energy.  So when we’re unwilling to talk about end-of-life health care costs or oppressive capitalist systems, we can’t change things. Instead, we pour countless hours of conversation into things like political infighting, Tik Tok crazes, or why Kim Kardashian ever dated Pete Davidson (those last 2 are way far out of my wheelhouse)

The realization hit me: This is why I’m talking about empathy at work and creating better leaders, cultures, and brands. I want us to pay attention, yes, but to actually make a change. Transform.

It started out with helping my clients craft an empathetic and engaging brand story, rooted in purpose. And yes, advising them on where they need to walk that talk in their culture, leadership, processes, or habits.  But it’s become a bigger movement to me. One in which we rethink our existing models and narratives of leadership and organizational success.

For too long, we’ve adopted false and binary narratives that you have to choose between humanity and profits. That compassionate leaders cannot also be competitive. That ambition can’t co-exist with empathy and collaboration. That we need to be one person at work and another when we’re off the clock.

Who the hell made these rules? Oh, right, we did. Humans. Our capitalist and industrialized society.

And we blindly bought into this status quo.

Here’s the great news: We as humans have the power to CHANGE those rules. They are not laws of physics that cannot be broken. We made them. We can make new ones.. (TWEET THIS!)

But first, we gotta talk about it. 

We have to talk about what is not working, where we are not being inclusive, and how our business practices might be harming our people or the environment.  We need to admit that profit had been held up above all other concerns for too long.  And that we can have both/and rather than either/or. 

Then we need to talk about how we get there. How we re-establish new rules together. How we create a better workplace culture. How we make the entire for-business system better.

Are you ready to talk to your leaders, teams, and customers about the future of work and the empathy revolution? I’d love to help. Let’s chat about a transformative and provocative talk to kick this into action for your organization tomorrow! 

3 Ways to Practice Empathy at Work

3 Ways to Practice Empathy at Work

At a book signing, the panel moderator told me that she recommended my book, The Empathy Edge, to her friend – let’s call her Jennifer. Jennifer was in a really bad work situation with what she deemed an out of touch manager. Her boss treated her badly, didn’t listen to her ideas and generally acted like he was too busy to be there for his team. Jennifer was pretty fed up by this point, and knowing her worth and value in the market, was about to walk away. But she did like her job so she was eager to read my book.

Jennifer read my book and loved every word (the moderator’s words, not mine!). She promptly marched into her boss’ office the next day and before he could say a word, shoved the book in his hands and said, “I’m not happy with how you manage me or the team. It’s so hard to come to work everyday, but I love this job. I’m asking you to read this book and in a week, we can sit down and discuss it. If you don’t, I’m leaving.”

Her boss was stunned. To his credit, he did as he was asked.

They ended up having a great conversation. He had no idea how his actions were being perceived or the emotional toll it was taking on Jennifer. They made a plan to change how he treated the team, how he communicated, and also how the team responded and worked together to address his concerns as well.

Jennifer stayed in her job,

I have no idea if Jennifer is still there, but I love this story so much. It shows how much we can gain by communicating and being vulnerable when we have nothing left to lose. Her boss recognized many actions and intentions in himself from the book and, wanting to be a better leader and build a high-performing team, was willing to have the conversation.

Showing empathy at work is not as complicated as you think. (Tweet This!)

Here are 3 ways you can practice empathy at work:

  • Ask questions and actively listen: Whether you are the manager or just on a team of colleagues, start defaulting to “I’m right and you’re wrong” and instead ask questions first. “Tell me more about your idea. What makes you believe it’s the way to go? How do you see this meeting our goals?” 
  • Find common ground: In high-stakes situations, establish the common goal you both have, however basic, so you get on the same side of the table, rather than acting like two opposing forces. “We can both agree we want this campaign to succeed and drive more leads, right?” Even if it seems obvious, it’s a great way to diffuse tension and remind yourselves you are both on the same team. 
  • Check in with people: Before diving into the business end of the meeting, take a moment for everyone to ground themselves and share what’s going on for them. One CEO does this with his exec team every Monday, and they share how their weekends went, if they had fun, if they’re having a difficult time with their kids, etc. This gives others context to know where people are coming from and what they might need. It avoids assuming someone is being rude or testy because they don’t like your idea when the truth is that they stayed up all night potty training the new puppy.

Discover more actionable ways to be a more empathetic leader and create a more empathetic culture in my book The Empathy Edge: Harnessing the Value of Compassion as an Engine for Success. And learn from other innovative leaders on The Empathy Edge podcast!

Photo Credit: Aleksandra Sapozhnikova on Unsplash

3 Leadership and Innovation Lessons from 50 Empathy Interviews

50 EPISODES! I’ve now recorded 50 episodes of The Empathy Edge Podcast and have learned so much from these inspiring leaders, changemakers, and rockstars. 

This podcast was a way for me to continue my research and my own learnings about empathy in action after I was done writing the book. And man, I’m so glad I am doing this! If you’ve been listening, you’ve heard from CEO’s, CMO’s, communications experts, and even social entrepreneurs about how they are puytting empathy to work in their business models and reaping the rewards.

Here are 3 inspiring lessons that my guests have shared with us about empathy’s role in our work and society (Tweet This!)

  1. Innovation can’t happen without optimism: The need for optimism is vital to social change but also innovation and advancement. I’ve spoken with leaders toiling away at redefining success in our workplaces and broader culture – and taking a long term view. It would be so easy to say they are dreaming or “It will never happen” but they are  committed to seeing it through. They are hacking away at it and succeeding –  and that is what it takes to ignite change.

Episodes to check out:

Susanna Camp and Jonathan Littman: What’s Your Entrepreneurial Type?
Kara Goldin: Undaunted Leadership
Ian Bently: Conscious Consumerism Meets Conscious Brands for the Win

  1. People-First leadership is not a passing fad: So many inspiring stories with real ROI and business success. We are no longer lacking models – we just have to elevate the people doing this and having success so this can quickly become the norm. Most management models are outdated and actually hinder success in the modern era.

Episodes to check out:

Rebecca Friese: How to Build a “Good” Culture
Susan Hunt Stevens: The ROI of Psychological Safety
Scott Burns: 5 Workplace Concepts That Won’t Exist in 5 Years
Jay Baer: How Empathy Gets Your Customers Talking

  1. We can all do more: If anything, the guests I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing inspire me and my listeners to find their niche and DO MORE. Whether they are launching social enterprises, mdoeling empathy in their own organizations, or tackling systemic racism, they are taking steps. There’s enough work to be done to close the empathy gap. Find your passion and attack it from there.

Episodes to check out:

M.E. Hart: How to Bridge Divisions by Embracing Our Common Humanity
Gabrielle Thomas: Using Your Voice and Platform to Impact Change
Karen Catlin: How to be a Real Ally
Terri Givens: Radical Empathy to Bridge Racial Divides
Elisa Camahort Page: The Art of Empathy in Politics, Activism and Media BS

If you haven’t yet, you’re invited to check out The Empathy Edge podcast!

Soak up the insights and inspiration while you work out, fold laundry, or take a daily walk. Please subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google.  (And kindly leave an honest review if you’re able!)

Have podcast suggestions for future guests, format, or topics? Would love to hear from you!

Photo Credit: Becca Henry

Are you an Empathy Hijacker?

“We can relate to people without hijacking the conversation” Communication expert Sharon Steed.

Sharon and I connected recently as we were both on an empathy panel together. I’m in love with her work transforming company culture with empathy. She has a great LinkedIn course about communicating with more empathy as well, and that’s where I got this insightful quote.

People often assume that sharing similar experiences with someone is empathy. Not quite. Empathy is more about listening and sitting with someone to see things from their point of view. Unless asked, it’s not about you hijacking the conversation and making it about you. 

You know you’re doing this if you ever tell someone: “I know how you feel, when this happened to me, I…..”

I say this with love, because I think we all (myself included) do this in an effort to show people we understand them. It’s our way of active listening and our intention is to make others not feel so alone. So I get it.

During my long recovery from a ruptured brain aneurysm, and even today, as I struggle with life-long cognitive impairments as a result, well-intentioned people do this all the time:

“You have to write everything down? Oh my gosh, I forget things all the time, too. You’re just getting older like the rest of us!”

“Wow, now you know how I feel, not remembering dates and faces.”

“I have bad short-term memory too – it must just be mommy brain!”

All of these are well-intentioned attempts to connect. But all this does is diminish another person’s pain and experience. For me, when someone says this, it negates everything I went through, all the therapy, education, and struggle, as if it’s no big deal. 

Somewhere along the line, we mistakenly learned that sharing your own similar experience was empathy. It’s not. (Tweet This!)

Empathy is about perspective taking, information gathering, and actively listening. It’s about acknowledging another person’s experience. Yes, where appropriate one can share lessons learned or how they got through something, but the initial sharing is not the time. Just be patient. Give the person room to process and share first before you dive in with wisdom or advice.

Your response is about you, not the other person. You want to feel more comfortable, or “fix” things for the other person. That is not what they need. They need to feel heard.

You can understand someone without hijacking the conversation.

Sharon also shared this gem in her LinkedIn course: “Patience means slowing down your response to judgement. Without patience, there is no empathy” (Tweet This!)

When someone is sharing their experiences, here are 4 things you can say instead:

  1. Tell me more…
  2. Wow, that must have been a lot to go through. How does it make you feel?
  3. What I hear you saying is… that right or do you want to share more? I’d love to understand more.
  4. How can I help?/What support do you think you might need?

Got more? Tweet me @redslice or DM me on Instagram @redslicemaria

Photo Credit: Jude Beck via Unsplash

5 Ways Empathy Benefits Your Business

Empathy is not just good for society, it is good for your organization’s performance. 

(Yes, if I have to speak to selfish motives to make the world more empathetic, I will!) 

Empathy has been shown to have a direct impact on everything from customer loyalty to innovation to profits. When embraced with genuine intent and not simply as a glossy PR veneer, empathy can offer your organization countless benefits beyond just, well, being a good corporate citizen and doing the right thing for people!  

Caveat: While empathy offers all these wonderful benefits, it must be genuine. Your organization can’t just paint a glossy empathy veneer on for good press. 

It must truly embed empathy at the leadership, culture, and external brand levels.  (Tweet This!)

Here are 5 proven ways that empathy benefits your business:   

  1. Empathy spurs innovation: When you understand your customers, you can keep pace with changing needs and desires. Internal studies at Google found that their most innovative and profitable ideas came from teams leading with soft skills, such as empathy. 
  2. Empathy aligns you with customer wants and needs: The more in tune you are with your customers, the faster you can deliver best-fit products or services before your competitors catch on. In order to know what customers desire, you must see things from their perspective. Building an ideal customer profile will help you know what their life is like. Steve Jobs, for instance, focused on understanding a customer so well that Apple’s product designers knew what the customer wanted before they did. 
  3. Empathy improves employee performance: Employees with more empathy and collaboration skills can often outperform and advance faster than those with purely the technical skills to succeed. Organizations find that having these skills aids in team members’ individual successes. 
  4. Empathetic brands — and workplaces — appeal to millennials and Gen Z: As professionals, they are among the most diverse generations in the workforce and seek to leverage diverse perspectives to solve tough business challenges. They stick with employers who embrace new perspectives and value their points of view. As consumers, they’re loyal to companies and brands that care and make a difference. 
  5. Empathy drives sales, growth, and market performance: The best and most progressive corporations have begun to adopt and employ compassionate business tactics, which have improved their standing in the market. Many companies report improved metrics such as a healthier stock price, higher valuation and increased revenue. 

Want to read more about how empathetic mindsets and practices specifically benefit your leaders, culture, and brand performance? Please download this free guide: Five Ways Empathy Benefits Your Brand, Performance, and Culture 

And don’t forget to check out my new book, The Empathy Edge: Harnessing the Value of Compassion as an Engine for Success (A Playbook for Brands, Leaders, and Teams. You’ll get an even deeper dive into research and case studies that process these benefits and get actionable steps you can take right now to make yourself and your organization more empathetic.