Leading through disruption – Part V When approached for advice, suspend your judgments and biases while listening. Let go of preconceived notions and remain open-minded

Arthur Marara Herald Correspondent

How to be empathetic in 9 Steps

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings, experiences, and perspectives of others.

It involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, imagining their emotions and thoughts, and responding.

In disruptive times, it is crucial for leaders to cultivate empathy as it helps them understand and connect with their team members on a deeper level. Here are some ways leaders can be empathetic during such periods:

  • Active listening

Active listening is a crucial skill for leaders to effectively understand and engage with their team members. Leaders should practice active listening by giving their full attention to employees’ concerns, ideas, and feedback. A leader should pay attention to what his or her team is saying. Be vulnerable and willing to share your struggles and experiences to create a safe space for your team to do the same. Leaders should create a safe space where individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves.

Here are some ways leaders can practice active listening

Be fully present: Give your undivided attention to the person speaking. Eliminate distractions, maintain eye contact, and avoid interruptions. Show through your body language that you are engaged and interested.

Provide a safe and open environment: Create an atmosphere where individuals feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas. Encourage open communication and assure them that their opinions are valued.

Listen without judgment: Suspend your judgments and biases while listening. Let go of preconceived notions and remain open-minded. Avoid jumping to conclusions or making assumptions about what the speaker intends to convey.

Demonstrate empathy: Try to understand the speaker’s perspective by putting yourself in their shoes. Show empathy by acknowledging and appreciating their feelings, thoughts, and experiences. Reflect their emotions back to them to let them know you understand.

Ask relevant questions: Pose thoughtful and clarifying questions to delve deeper into the speaker’s thoughts. This demonstrates your interest and encourages further elaboration. However, be cautious not to interrupt or derail the speaker’s train of thought.

Paraphrase and summarise: Periodically restate and summarise key points made by the speaker to ensure accurate understanding. This also shows that you are actively listening and paying attention to the details.

Practice active non-verbal communication: Use non-verbal cues such as nodding, smiling, and facial expressions to show that you are actively engaged in the conversation. These cues help establish rapport and encourage the speaker to share more.

Respond appropriately: After actively listening, respond in a manner that acknowledges the speaker’s input. Offer feedback, ask follow-up questions, or provide support and guidance where necessary. Avoid dominating the conversation or making it solely about your own views.

Continuous learning and feedback: Actively listening is an ongoing process of improvement. Seek feedback from others on your listening skills and be open to suggestions for growth. Regularly reflect on your conversations and identify areas for improvement.

Active listening is about genuinely understanding others and fostering effective communication. By practicing these techniques consistently, leaders can create a positive and inclusive work environment while building stronger relationships with their team members.

  • Understanding individual needs

Each employee may be experiencing disruptive times differently. Leaders should take the time to understand their team members’ unique circumstances, challenges, and aspirations. By showing genuine interest, leaders can better support their employees. Educate yourself on diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, and create an inclusive environment for everyone.

  • Flexibility and adaptability

Empathetic leaders recognise that everyone copes differently with disruption. They should provide flexible work arrangements when possible, allowing employees to manage personal responsibilities alongside professional obligations.

  • Emotional support

Disruptive times can lead to increased stress and anxiety. Leaders should be attuned to their team members’ emotional well-being and offer support and resources to help them navigate difficult situations.

  • Empowerment and collaboration

Empathetic leaders involve employees in decision-making processes. They encourage diverse perspectives and give individuals opportunities to contribute their ideas. This involvement helps employees feel valued and connected.

  • Recognition and appreciation

During disruptive times, recognising and appreciating employees’ efforts becomes even more important. Leaders should acknowledge and celebrate achievements, both big and small, to boost morale and motivate their teams.

  • Providing resources and development opportunities

Offering resources and development opportunities shows that leaders care about the growth and success of their employees. It could include training programmes, mentoring, or access to tools needed to adapt to changing circumstances.

  • Leading by example

Leaders should model empathy in their own behaviours and interactions. When leaders prioritise empathy, it sets a positive tone for the entire organisation, encouraging others to follow suit.

  • Continuous learning

Empathy is a skill that can be developed and refined over time. Leaders should invest in their own education and growth by seeking out resources, attending workshops, or working with coaches to enhance their empathetic leadership skills.

By embracing empathy, leaders can create a supportive environment that empowers employees to navigate disruptive times with resilience and adaptability.

Arthur Marara is a corporate law attorney, keynote speaker, corporate and personal branding speaker commanding the stage with his delightful humour, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. He is a financial wellness expert and is passionate about addressing the issues of wellness, strategy and personal and professional development. Arthur is the author of “Toys for Adults” a thought provoking book on entrepreneurship, and “No one is Coming” a book that seeks to equip leaders to take charge.

Feedback: [email protected] or Visit his website www.arthurmarara.com or contact him on WhatsApp: +263780055152 or call +263772467255.


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