Empathic Skills: Definition And Examples (With Tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 2 September 2022
Published 11 May 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
When you empathise with a person, you might put an effort to comprehend their point of view and provide them with the opportunity to express it. There are various components of empathy that often influence how you interact with your colleagues. Exploring how empathic skills functions in the workplace can allow you to build meaningful relationships and manage your emotions as an employee. In this article, we define empathic skills, provide examples and list tips for improving them and showcasing them to prospective employers.
What Are Empathic Skills?
Empathic skills are those that relate to the recognition and management of emotions in the workplace. You can remain mindful of your own thoughts and emotions, and also the sentiments of other employees. Empathy is often evident during professional conversations. They allow you to examine a scenario from your perspective and correlate it with that of a teammate. Additionally, you may demonstrate that you are receptive to various points of view.
Related: What Is Interpersonal Communication?
Examples Of Empathic Abilities
Here are examples of empathic abilities you can use as an employee:
Curiosity enables you to leverage the perspectives of those you interact with daily at work, such as colleagues, supervisors and stakeholders. Curiosity may inspire inquisitiveness, which motivates you to enquire and understand as much as possible about a subject. For instance, your curiosity may motivate you to perform market research to discover a novel means of reaching out to target customers. You may be receptive to others' perspectives and eager to learn how to establish a varied and inclusive work environment.
Active listening is the ability to accurately hear and comprehend a message while demonstrating to the speaker that you are paying attention. Active listening skills may help you lead effective discussions with colleagues. You may listen carefully to comprehend rather than just to answer, which can enable you to clarify concepts, settle disputes and establish expectations. Active listening often includes nonverbal indicators such as maintaining direct eye contact with the speaker, nodding your head in agreement with them and angling your body towards them. It also entails paraphrasing the speaker's words and allowing them to complete their views before explaining yours.
Self-awareness helps you to understand how your emotions impact your professional behaviour, which eventually affects your interactions at work. You can assess your thinking and accept responsibility for your actions. You may discover opportunities to improve your performance. For instance, you may undertake a self-assessment and discover that you want clarification on the instructions for a job task. Your ability to determine the source of your perplexity can enable you to seek assistance, which enables you to complete the assignment on time. Self-awareness often entails a thorough understanding of self, including personal beliefs and behavioural tendencies.
As an employee, it is critical to be mindful of your team members' emotions. Emotional intelligence enables you to detect subtle indications of your colleagues' emotional states, such as body language and communication habits. Your analysis may enable you to give required emotional and mental assistance. You may build stronger connections with your colleagues, which can result in more effective teamwork and a congenial work atmosphere. For example, an emotionally intelligent boss may plan a private meeting with an employee to provide an opportunity for them to address their concerns.
Being an open-minded employee entails being ready to consider other points of view. When a colleague suggests an alternative method for completing a job, you may have the patience to listen to their argument and agree to attempt their strategy to see whether it is effective. You might recognise that you can develop your thinking and emphasise innovation to make a beneficial impact on the work environment. When a team member advises subscribing to a software program, for example, your open-mindedness may encourage you to discover how the software works and consider adopting it for a future project.
How To Improve Empathetic Skills
Follow these steps to enhance your ability to practice empathy:
1. Discover your level of skill
Before developing your empathetic competence, it is critical to assess your current skills and shortcomings. You may choose how to use your time and resources and concentrate on the plan for reaching your professional objectives. For instance, if you discover that you have a high level of self-awareness, you may choose to focus on developing your mindfulness and listening to comprehend rather than just responding. Consider times in your career when you demonstrated empathy for colleagues, clients or customers. Also, recall your existing skill set and the competency level for which you are aiming.
2. Ask for constructive criticism
Another technique to develop your empathetic abilities is to get feedback. Ask your colleagues, including a supervisor and teammate, about how well you empathise with them. You may identify particular moments when you did it effectively, which might serve as a roadmap for progress. Your colleagues may also guide how to improve your performance. Consider going through notes from performance evaluations or satisfaction surveys to have a better understanding of your strengths and limitations. Explore how you may approach a conversation or volunteer for a new project differently the next time.
3. Practice empathising with others
Seek opportunities at work to put the feedback you have heard into practice and to develop your empathetic abilities. For instance, during a one-on-one meeting, you might aim to listen to your colleague's remarks and respond appropriately. You may use nonverbal indicators to ascertain a teammate's emotional requirements. Evaluate your performance as you practise to discover whether you are improving your competence. Monitoring your development might help you develop a greater sense of self-awareness. Consider increasing the complexity of the work to test your empathy and develop communication skills that are a good match for your personality.
Empathetic Skills In The Workplace
In a workplace context, you may display numerous empathetic abilities simultaneously. They may also emerge in regular interactions, which is why it might be beneficial to train yourself to empathise with yourself and others. During your workday, here are a few instances of how to show your empathetic competencies:
Provide positive feedback to a team member. Providing performance feedback may involve emotional intelligence, where you may choose the most efficient approach to communicate your findings while also considering the employee's emotions. After you are through, you may assess their verbal and nonverbal clues to determine how to best assist their future ambitions.
Attend to a client's explanation of project expectations. If you and a customer have contrasting approaches to a project, you may combine open-mindedness and active listening. Your listening abilities may assist you in determining precisely what the customer wants, and your willingness to listen can assist you in adjusting your technique to meet their expectations.
Consider the achievements of a collective assignment. As a team member, it may benefit you to be self-aware of your contributions to an assignment. You may hold yourself responsible for your contribution to the group's performance while simultaneously assessing the quality of your interpersonal ties with your colleagues.
Ways To Highlight Empathetic Skills
If your preferred occupation may require you to show empathy, it may be beneficial to demonstrate your empathetic abilities during your job search. Here are three occasions where you can impress a potential employer:
Empathetic skills for resume
Employers may read your resume to determine if you can be an empathetic employee. Using the job description, identify skills related to empathy that the employer prioritises. Next, include them in the objective statement and the work experience and skills sections of your resume. For example, you can explain how you plan to apply empathy to the position. Summarise the responsibilities of your previous roles that required you to empathise, and you can name the skills directly on a bulleted list. Consider referencing work accomplishments, such as industry awards and successful projects, where your skills contributed.
Empathetic skills for cover letter
Your cover letter can elaborate on the skills you listed on your resume. Consider telling a story about your competence with empathy in the workplace. For example, you can discuss instances when you connected with your colleagues and addressed their concerns. It might also be helpful to explain how your curiosity and self-awareness allowed you to satisfy customers or clients.
Empathetic skills in the job interview
The job interview is an opportunity to practise your empathic abilities in person. When you communicate well with the hiring manager, they may feel confident that you can empathise with others in the workplace. Practice active listening to learn about the organisation and interpret the interview questions correctly. You can also have the open-mindedness to receive feedback from the employer about your qualifications.
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