How Empathy Can Enhance your Relationships

Posted in Insights, Motivational, News

Frequently when consulting with teams and individuals, the topic of empathy arises because it is such an important element of effective relationships and conflict resolution.

How Empathy can Enhance your Relationships, Marshall ConnectsNo matter how strong a personal or professional relationship seems, there are always things you can do to improve your relationships. Today, we discuss empathy and the power it has to strengthen bonds and resolve conflicts.

The topic of empathy often when consulting with teams and individuals. It's no wonder it's such a popular talking point: it's an incredibly important element of effective relationships and conflict resolution!

What is Empathy?

Empathy is the capacity to recognize and understand others’ feelings and opinions. This ability means figuratively walking in their shoes or seeing things through their eyes.

Empathy can improve your relationships at work AND at home.

Strengthening your empathy skills will definitely improve your relationships. 

But not only will you have stronger, more meaningful relationships, you'll also see more workplace success. Not to mention overall improved well-being and quality of life.

That's right: improving your empathy also improves your relationships! And just about everything else in your life.

Some of us are born with natural empathetic skills that we practise regularly. But that certainly isn’t the case with everyone. 

People often ask if empathy can be learned. They want to know if children and adults with autism spectrum conditions can be taught.  

The answer to both questions is yes!

Empathy can be learned and taught.

The fact that empathy can be learned and taught is significant. 

The next step is helping teams and individuals understand why they need to learn and strengthen their empathy skills. After all, once you know how empathy can improve your relationships, you're more inclined to work on it.

Ultimately, they need to understand how that impacts their relationships and conflict resolution. 

Through my consulting on employee conflict resolution, one of the major challenges that I realize quite quickly is the great difficulty many relate to each other. In particular, their inability to understand each other’s perspectives. 

Generally, people aren't out to hurt, provoke or aggravate their colleagues. Most often, they struggle to put themselves in their colleague’s shoes. 

Sometimes we feel so strong and passionately that we aren’t able and/or willing to step back and consider another’s rationale or point of view.

Did you know the power of empathy also plays an important role in reducing mental health stigma? Learn more here.

It’s not just about what you said…

If we take the 93% rule into account (a famous study by Professor Emeritus), we understand that;

  • When communicating about feelings and attitudes, words – the things we say – account for only 7 percent of the total message that people receive. The other 93 percent of the message that we communicate when we speak is contained in our tone of voice and body language. It's important, then, to spend some time to understand how we come across when we communicate with others about our feelings and attitudes.
    - Mind Tools

How can empathy improve your relationships?

When it comes to our relationships, personal and professional, it’s imperative to take the time to comprehend how we come across and communicate with others. Otherwise, we might lack a complete understanding of the message we intend to send.

Once we better understand the people we're surrounded by, we have a better chance of developing stronger, more meaningful relationships. 

Luckily, this goes not only for business relationships but for our personal relationships as well. 

If you want to improve your relationships, you'll also want to work on conflict resolution. Here are five simple steps for resolving a conversation ending in conflict.

Enhancing your empathy will most definitely improve your professional and personal relationships, and the great thing is that it can be developed. Empathy is an achievable, actionable goal!

Ready to talk more about leading with emotional effectiveness, empathy, and compassion? Click here to learn more about my one-day intensive for leaders.

This article was originally published on July 29, 2017, and has been updated (November 2020).

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