As a project manager, you need to work on developing some competencies that will help you achieve your goals and become a great project manager. Today we'll talk about empathy. Learn more about its importance and what to do to become better at it.
Empathy can be described as a person’s ability to be attuned to the feelings and emotions of other people. There are three basic ways of appreciating empathy:
- Effective empathy: This is the main ability of feeling what people feel, and being in their shoes real time. Studies have shown that people who are empathetic effectively are the ones who react profoundly when they see a gory sight in a movie or any other location.
- Cognitive empathy: The person who possesses cognitive empathy understands the emotions of others; why they act the way they act or even react the way they do. Cognitively empathetic people may not share in the strong reactions of others.
- Cognitive regulation: These sets of people have a lid on their emotions. An example is a doctor who is needed to keep calm and concentrate on his job, even in the face of distracting sights and sounds.
It is important for humans to be empathetic because it immediately drives the person to respond to other person’s needs.
For a project manager, empathy is very important. It puts you in a position to understand the level of creativity or competence in handling a particular task, and that helps you to adjust in terms of delegating duties.
When you are empathetic, you get to know and understand how your teammates like to work. This will bring out the best in them. Sometimes, a request from a coworker or team member can come up that may otherwise sound ludicrous, but if you are empathetic, it becomes easier to understand why this is happening, and that helps you to decide its worthiness or otherwise.
Empathy also helps you to build communication and trust between team members. You are able to know what to say and how to say it effectively.
How can you become more empathetic?
- Make it a duty not to look down on your subordinates. The fact that you are placed in a position to dish out instructions is not grounds to lord it over the team members, which can lead to resentment among team members. Sometimes, someone down the organizational ladder may proffer better ideas than the person leading. Make sure everyone is treated with respect.
- Have attentive ears for everyone and everything. Observe and note verbal and nonverbal cues and messages.
- Show them that you understand, that you care about their work, and that you are interested in their welfare, and do it genuinely.
- As an addendum to being humble, always bear it in mind that you don’t always know everything, and place yourself in a position where you are amenable to change and even correction. Instead of them shaming you, you will win their respect and admiration. When someone does something, don’t always jump to conclusions based on what you think. Try to get to understand first before judging.
- Always consider what you would do if you were the one going through what they’re going through before meting out sanctions or criticism. Also remember you were once in a position like theirs before judging people, especially your team members. Remember that the golden rule is doing unto others what you would want done to you. When an issue is put before you, take time to think it through with compassion in your heart, and connect to how the person is feeling. Don’t compare, instead try to relate.
This article is part of an ebook that goes through 12 skills that every project manager should master, showing their importance and some actions you can perform to become better at them. To download the ebook click here: