In my book, “Women Who Brand,” I cited “empathy” as a key aptitude for women and personal branding, and talked about it as an important business tool.
So how can you leverage empathy – the ability to perceive how someone else is feeling and to find a sense of similarity and understanding. How can empathy be of use in the business world? Here are some ways:
Understanding the feeling and point of view of others: Empathy is the ability to understand and connect with other people – to walk in their shoes as it were. When you use empathetic listening, people feel understood – even if you don’t end up agreeing with them. Most important, when you understand others, their concerns and approach, you will be better able to persuade and suggest solutions to problems.
Building consensus and promoting teamwork with diverse groups: Empathy is particularly relevant for today’s modern, global companies in which people from different cultures, backgrounds and status need to work together as a team to solve problems and reach important company goals. For 21st century companies, empathy can make the difference between success and failure of the business.
Developing a reputation as fair and balanced leader: As a boss, what you convey non-verbally has a tremendous impact. In one study, bosses gave employees a poor performance review, but did it in an empathetic, caring manner. People rated the experience positively. Then the test was flip-flopped. Bosses gave a positive review but did it in a cold, uncaring manner. Even though the verbal message was positive, people felt far worse than those who received the poor review.
In short, empathy is powerful. From a branding perspective, empathy will help you create positive perceptions about Brand You. From a business perspective, it will help you perform better.