Empathy – a Key to More Successful Communication
Mastering the art of communication is a complex process demanding time and ongoing effort. Most often, people think of communication as expressing their ideas to someone else. This is one part of it, but not all. Successful communication is a two-way process. People must present their ideas in a form others can understand and they must, in turn, listen to others to understand how the message is received.
Understanding others depends upon empathy. Empathy is the ability to view a situation from the viewpoint of others and understand their feelings and beliefs. Empathy recognises the inherent right of each person to hold personal views about situations. Understanding other people’s viewpoints doesn’t force you to agree with or accept that point of view. It only means you approach situations with fairness and objectivity.
Consider these suggestions for being empathetic as you communicate your ideas:
- Organise your ideas. Present your ideas in an organised way. Be sure your ideas and your thinking are crystal clear to you. Write them down. Organise them in light of what you know about others. When you’re absolutely certain you’ve organised your ideas, you can be more confident they will be understood and accepted.
- Tap into people’s interests. Present your ideas to others in a form that highlights their benefits. Strive to understand people’s needs and expectations and phrase your ideas in those terms to communicate effectively.
- Paint a picture. Some words appeal to emotions, desires and needs. Other words appeal to reason and fact. Words of both emotion and logic can contribute to painting pictures of ideas in people’s minds. Recognise the wants and needs of others and express your ideas in words that form a mental picture that promises to supply those needs.
- Vary your communication style. Use the communication style most comfortable and familiar to your listener. Adjust your style to enable your listener to understand and accept your message without the need to “translate” it. Consider how they will receive it and remember they will be listening with a “what’s in it for me” self-interest. When you’re working in a team, be aware of the communication styles of other team members that are different from yours. See the differences as an opportunity rather than a problem. Accept the challenge to communicate with everybody and capitalise upon the strengths of those differences.
Using empathy when you communicate is a key to better communication and improving your productivity.
LMA is now offering a suite of short courses to suit your organisation’s needs. Our Emotional Intelligence short course within our Thrive More product range would be perfect for those looking to understand more about the power of empathy.