It’s not surprising that empathy is necessary for building trust in the workplace. You’re not only putting yourself in others’ shoes. You also open up more when you share your thoughts and feelings.
When this happens, your colleagues realize you’re not that different from them. Remember that empathy is a two-way street. People also get to put themselves in your shoes.
Organizations used to downplay the value of empathy. But now companies realize that performance and productivity increase when it becomes part of their culture.
Empathy and trust go hand in hand. Improve on the first and the same thing happens with the second.
Here’s how you can achieve this.
1. Be empathetic now.
You might surprise your colleagues when you are suddenly curious about them. They might think you are out of character. But as you communicate more consistently with them, they’ll accept that you’ve changed.
First, avoid distractions like holding your mobile device as if you’re waiting for a call or message. Focus on what your colleagues are saying and not on your reply. Also, let them know you’ll think about what you learned from them.
3. Don’t forget to share.
Listening is just one-half of communication and you aren’t practicing empathy if you don’t offer your thoughts and feelings. People trust you more when you become vulnerable. However, be authentic and transparent.
4. Reserve judgment.
Making judgments about people while listening is counterproductive. Hold back on criticizing or telling them they’re wrong. You don’t have to agree with them. Instead, understand their point of view.
5. Offer solutions.
When employees approach you with problems, think of ways you can help them. Maybe your organization can provide a day-care facility, more lighting, better ventilation and office space. Remember that talk should be followed-up with solutions and action.
6. Spend some social time.
The workplace is often formal. Having a few drinks after office hours at a nearby bar can be more effective when you want employees to be more honest. How about a social activity where employees aren’t constrained by formal wear and office decorum?
7. Create a better environment for communication.
Regularly going out of your room to chat with colleagues is a significant step. In fact, make it a habit. Also, employees need to know what organizational changes will affect them. So, send e-mails and post memos promptly. Keep in mind, to be honest always.
Lastly, make it comfortable for people, so they don’t have any fears when they express themselves.