Empathy & Work SuccessPosted: 7th of July 2015 by
The world of work is full of catch-phrases and clichés, like ‘thinking outside the box,’ or ‘blue sky thinking,’ ideas that are designed to help foster creativity and innovation. However, consistently coming up with new and creative ideas can be tricky. While some may argue that it is time to get back to basics, or think ‘inside the box’ again, this is all just more jargon and business-talk. No matter what your business is, chances are it comes down to two simple factors – serving your customers, and doing it better than the competition.
Of course, your ‘customers’ will vary depending on where you work. They may be another business, the general public, or even your own work colleagues, but ultimately, keeping them happy will serve you well at work. Sure, you are paid to do a job, but by knowing your customers you can improve how you do that job and stand out.
The first thing is to understand the needs of your customers. Some companies do this through market research – literally asking their clients for feedback. Getting inside the minds of their customers, they can then come up with solutions to problems that their customers may not even realised they had.
This type of innovation and creativity continues to push the boundaries of invention – just think about how mobile phones have developed over the last 20 years. What was once a simple telephone with text messaging is now able to play music, show you video, and connect to the internet, opening up a multitude of new functions. Nobody really missed many of these functions before they became part of our everyday lives – but can you imagine living without them now?
While such creativity exists it comes from an ability to empathise with your customers. By learning about their dreams, fears, and desires inventors were able to find gaps in the market and create new products or services to assist their customers. But what if you are not inventing something in your work? Is empathy still useful?
Being able to empathise with your customers and colleagues will certainly help you get on at work. You could be a hairdresser that notices a regular customer is looking a bit down in the dumps and goes the extra mile by asking what’s wrong or cheering them up. You might spot something at work that will improve your relationship with a client, increase productivity, or save money. Noting these things can also mean empathising with your own co-workers, or even better perhaps, with your boss!
Of course, going around and asking your boss to fill in a survey of how they are feeling would be a bit odd, but you don’t need to do that. Instead you can just observe and listen to them, they should give you clues that will help you work out how they are feeling and why, A little empathy can then help you to start working out solutions to their problems.
So, forget your ‘blue sky thinking,’ and don’t worry about trying to come up with a solution and then finding a problem that it can fix (yes, that is a piece of advice we heard recently!), and instead just think about the needs of others, and find a solution.
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