Tips for Communicating with Empathy

 In Communication, Empathy

Tips to Communicate with Empathy

istockphoto xWhat is Empathy?

Empathy, in its most basic form, is the ability recognise emotions in others and to understand their perspectives. Empathy, at its best, allows you to use your empathy to help someone else feel better and support them in difficult situations.

Empathy is essential to trust and building effective relationships. Empathy is an under-utilised and poorly developed skill that can be used to communicate, build trust, influence and resolve conflicts. It is powerful and fundamental. Empathy is a key ingredient to success in both work and life.

Empathy refers to the ability to empathise with another person. It is the ability of understanding and identifying with the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of another person. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you fully understand. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree. Empathy is the ability to empathise with another person and to seek to understand them.

Tips to Communicate with Empathy

1. What I Say and Do

Empathy is essential in interactions with patients and their families. Empathy is not just about listening to and understanding the patient’s concerns and perspectives, but also communicating that understanding with the intention of helping.

2. Why I Do It

Time pressures, endless to-do lists and racing minds can make it difficult to provide personalised, empathic and attentive care.

Higher levels of empathy are associated with higher levels in customer satisfaction and survey scores, but also with customer engagement and adherence to plans, positive health outcomes, and job satisfaction.

3. How do I do it?

Mindfulness is the first step. Maintain eye contact, look at the person directly, and listen to their words and other nonverbal behaviours without judgment.

4. Actively listen

People are often scared during a crisis. To show empathy, active listening requires you to use both verbal and body language. You can use a relaxed and warm tone, head nodding or smiling to show empathy.

5. Recognise Their Fears

Solidarity and empathy can help to ease fears. Everyone has the right feel certain emotions, even fearful. It’s OK to tell them. Statements like “you are entitled to feel the way that you do” or “it’s okay to be afraid at times like these” can encourage openness and promote hope.

6. Offer Flexibility

Allow employees to work remotely and virtually, if possible. Many organisations have adopted remote work environments, so it may not be necessary to make changes. For those that don’t have virtual communication, this is an opportunity to adapt and change.

7. Build trust

Your team must trust you to be able to follow your direction and recommendations. What makes trust so important in crisis situations? According to numerous studies, the more trust we place in the people we are supposed to inform or protect us, the less fear we have. Fears are greater when we don’t trust people. Communicators must communicate clearly, openly, honestly and frequently to build trust.

8. Communicate often

Leaders need to communicate with staff more often than they think it is necessary. Frequent communication decreases anxiety and uncertainty, and ensures employees hear the message. Although leaders might feel tired from repeating the same core messages over and over, it is important to recognise that team members must hear them multiple times. Different people may require different messages. In a time where so many are suffering from bad news and other negative consequences, leaders must remember to highlight the positives and find them.

9. Plan for the future

This is undoubtedly due to employees’ concerns about their jobs. It’s not surprising that so many people are worried about the future of their organisation because of the current crisis. Leaders can be a great source of guidance. Communicate what’s working well for the organisation. Also, be sure to share as much information as possible about your strategy and future plans. Recognise employees who go above and beyond to help their colleagues or drive business results. This can have a positive ripple effect. Given the extent of the pandemic’s impact on personal and professional lives, and the uncertainty ahead, people look to their leaders for advice and support.

10. Do not interrupt

According to a study, doctors tend to interrupt patients within 18 seconds of their initial interview. Patients are less likely to share all their concerns if they are interrupted. It may take another visit to find out all you need, or follow-up calls.

11. Pay attention to language

Use simple language and ask for clarification if necessary. Older patients may be more familiar with certain words than you, or your peers. Different connotations of words may be based on ethnic or cultural background. While you can’t anticipate every cultural/ethnic variation in language usage, it is possible to be more aware and communicate better.

12. Be kind to yourself

It is best to avoid giving negative feedback or criticisms when someone shares a story. Sometimes, other people’s problems can seem insignificant, absurd, or even frustrating. It’s not about me, it’s about them. Your goal is to provide emotional support and understanding. Criticism will only cause tension and make it more difficult to form authentic connections.

Last Thoughts

Empathic listening allows people to see their inner world and creates a safe place where they can freely share without worrying about being judged or making bad comments. Empathy is the bridge between two people. Words are secondary and what is most important is the connection.

However, being empathic does not mean that you must agree with everyone and it does not imply any obligation. It is a willingness to try to understand others’ perspectives, to ‘walk a mile in their shoes’.

All things considered, we can conclude that empathy allows us to communicate information, share feelings and ideas with others while also being able to understand and relate to their needs, wants and feelings. To persuade others to do what we believe is best for them, we need to communicate with more empathy.

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