Fear of Using Empathy in the Workplace In Performance Management

There is a real fear of using empathy in the workplace.

The fear is that empathy is too soft a communication strategy to manage performance effectively.

This fear popped up with a client last week in one of the two contexts empathy should be applied, in individual one-on-one situations.

While coaching a mid-level manager struggling with the performance of one of her team members, her boss grilled me about all this empathy
stuff.

She challenged me, “this is all well and good to make the employee feel better but we still have to deal with the performance issues.
When do we get to that.?”

“After the individual has an opportunity to feel heard about their frustrations and challenges, and the emotions they are feeling around it have been diffused.”

Once the emotion is diffused there is an opportunity for a frank conversation about what has to come next.

The transition is more art than science.

Knowing when to make that transition requires deep, sincere listening.

That in itself is a challenge.

My wife, a new manager of 16 months now, came to me a few weeks ago and said, “I finally realized listening isn’t just about waiting for
somebody to stop talking.”

My wife explained the importance of that epiphany to her, “if you’re a talker, like me, you’re sitting there chomping at the bit to jump in
and make your point. You’re not really listening.”

Then, she added, “and you’re certainly not listening with empathy!”

And, that’s what leaders need to do.

Twenty-five years ago Stephen Covey coined the phrase, “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Habit #5 in his book on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

I’m amazed at how many people can quote that statement, and how few actually practice it.

That’s empathy. Listening to understand.

Empathy is being genuinely curious. Curious enough to be open to noticing how someone is feeling, and then why someone is feeling that
way.

Next time I’ll offer some examples of empathy statements and how someone fearful of using it because it’s too soft and will never allow
for the transition to getting your point across can be done.

All of March’s FREE Strategy Sessions have been scheduled, look for April’s to be released in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, you can learn about one of the contexts of workplace empathy in my newest white paper report:

“How to Transform Your Workplace from Drama & Defensiveness to Employee Initiative & Ownership”

Download your free copy at this link:

www.LeadershipCommunicationExpert.com/dramatoownershipreport

Make it a great week!

Best Regards,
Skip

P.S. – I’m really excited because next week I’ll be presenting my first seminar on the topic of “How to Transform Your Workplace from Drama & Defensiveness to Employee Initiative & Ownership” to a sold out audience at the Rochester (NY) Business Alliance. So the webinar is not far behind, grab the report today at www.LeadershipCommunicationExpert.com/dramatoownershipreport

Posted in Champion Leadership Communication, Champion Leadership Tips, The Conscious Communicator, Trust in the Workplace | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Workplace Empathy is the Rodney Dangerfield of Communication

Growing up one of my favorite comedians was Rodney Dangerfield.

He built a lucrative career proclaiming that he “never got any respect.”

His standup routines were a series of one liners lamenting his lot in life, such as,
“I don’t get any respect, last week I called the suicide prevention hotline and they tried to talk me into it.”

In leadership I find the concept of communicating with empathy to be the same.

Leaders are confused by it.

Many believe it’s too soft to communicate with empathy. Others believe they know how to communicate with empathy and struggle to get the results so they think it doesn’t work.

The former believe their people will see them as weak and will walk all over them, disrespecting their position. The latter are doing it incorrectly.

I’ll address the former first, and save the latter for next week so you get this series in bite size chunks.

When leaders communicate with the right doses of empathy it offers many benefits, including:

  1. allows people to open up as to the challenges they are facing
  2. people feel comfortable opening sharing those challenges without the fear of feeling inadequate
  3. it builds a connection between the leader and his/her people that allows both sides to care about each other personally and professionally
  4. it allows the leader to be direct and firm when they need to be because their people trust them, and know they are being told things that are in their best interest and its not just for the leaders own interest.

For all those reasons and more, leaders should give “empathy” more respect.

There are 2 specific contexts leaders should apply empathy in their environment, you’ll learn about those next week, too.

All of March’s FREE Strategy Sessions have been scheduled, look for April’s to be released in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, you can learn about one of the contexts of workplace empathy in my newest white paper report:

“How to Transform Your Workplace from Drama & Defensiveness to Employee Initiative & Ownership”

Download your free copy at this link:

www.LeadershipCommunicationExpert.com/dramatoownershipreport

Make it a great week!

Best Regards,
Skip

P.S. – I’m really excited because next week I’ll be presenting my first seminar on the topic of “How to Transform Your Workplace from Drama & Defensiveness to Employee Initiative & Ownership” to a sold out audience at the Rochester (NY) Business Alliance. So the webinar is not far behind, grab the report today at www.LeadershipCommunicationExpert.com/dramatoownershipreport

Posted in Champion Leaders, Champion Leadership Communication, Champion Leadership Tips, The Conscious Communicator, Trust in the Workplace | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ask Skip: Do You Have a Degree in Psychology?
(no one has ever asked me this)

Last week the owner of a small business (about $10 million and 60 employees) called to investigate how I might help with workplace drama he was facing.

Early in our conversation he asked, “do you have a degree in psychology?”

“No,” I replied curiously, “Why does that matter?”

“I’m struggling with a number of personality conflicts between people in our company and I thought I someone with that background is what I need.”

I told him, “I have a degree in communication, and your issues with workplace personality conflicts are simply communication issues I can help with.”

In 13 years of helping business leaders transform workplaces from drama and into initiative and ownership no one ever asked me that question.

After that call I realized that it doesn’t matter if I have a formal degree in psychology.

I do have training though, both formal and informal, in personal change strategies. All are based in interpersonal communication.

There is one over-arching communication strategy anyone can use to help people change their attitudes and behaviors, even you.

Empathy!

Empathy is the most mis-understood communication strategy.

In my leadership communication trainings, the role-play exercises attendees engage in, consistently show me few know how to deliver empathy effectively.

Empathy is the ultimate in listening and reflecting what the listener is hearing.

A primary reason psychologists, social workers and counselors are able to achieve results with clients seeking personal change is directly related to their communication style.

Obviously, this communication style is part of their formal training, yet, research has shown similar results can be achieved with layman who are also able to exhibit high levels of empathy.

So, what IS empathy and how can you display it?

I’ll address that issue with specific language later this week. Stay tuned.

Because of my emphasis on the survey last week, I still have a couple of openings for my 5 FREE Revolutionary Leadership Strategy Sessions.

If, as a small business leader, you like to improve the results you achieve with your employees, I encourage you to request a Strategy Session here at this link: www.RevolutionaryLeadershipCoaching.com/freestrategysession

’til next time, make it a great week!

skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results

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