Take a deep breath and think for a while; over the past weeks or month: Did you ask your parents about their health and mental status or whether they want to tell you something? When did you ask last your kids about their mental situation or whether they want to share something with you? Or how about a time when you were sharing your struggle or emotion with a person and that become their tool of experience?
Although the recent crisis has emphasized the necessity of being empathetic, unfortunately very few people understand this fact. In contrast to the workplace, this has left many isolated in the workplace, which as a result brings high turnover, fear of missing out, loneliness, depression, and many other mental problems.
But it is not that simple!
Empathy is a multifaceted appearance. It isn’t a matter of simply recognizing the hardships of others. Rather, empathy is a dynamic construct that can be measured and developed. Despite how ordinary the term has become, many leaders don’t appreciate how difficult it can be to get right—or the significance when it goes crooked.
Unfortunately, most of us didn’t learn emotional regulation as a kid from family or even in society. Our universities haven’t yet added courses on this. Our relationships are becoming more materialistic and fragile! We are becoming impatience and unconsiderable. In many cases, leaders are not focusing to develop or practice empathy for their people or team. The good news, though, is that empathy is not an absolute characteristic. It can be cultured.
Empathy is the ability to emotionally understand what other people feel, see things from their point of view, and imagine yourself in their place. Essentially, it is putting yourself in someone else’s position and feeling what they are feeling. Empathy means that when you see another person suffering, such as after they’ve lost a loved one, you can instantly envision yourself going through that same experience and feel what they are going through. While people can be well-attuned to their feelings and emotions, getting into someone else’s head can be a bit more difficult. The ability to feel empathy allows people to “walk a mile in another’s shoes,” so to speak. It permits people to understand the emotions that others are feeling.
Empathy has three little but crucially different components:
Cognitive empathy: lets us understand the emotional experience of others while maintaining a healthy detachment. It’s the ability to intellectually walk in someone else’s shoes.
Sympathy, or emotional empathy: lets us feel what another person is experiencing. This has value—but also limitations. Sympathy activates brain neurons in a way that the observer ends up feeling pain as if it were their own. So when suffering becomes too intense, we protect ourselves and put up barriers, reducing the likelihood of compassionate action.
Compassion, or empathetic care: manifests as concern for others. This form of empathy activates a set of brain regions involved in feelings of warmth, reward, and affiliation. Highly compassionate people are more capable of quieting the parts of their brain that focus on themselves so that they can take helpful action.
It is difficult to frame the meaning of empathy. But to be empathetic effectively; we need a combination of all these components. Alone sympathy is not beneficial or cognitive empathy alone ideal either, but together, those can create compassion. That is the magic of becoming a compelling leader.
Signs of Empathy
If you are wondering whether you are an empathetic person, here are some signs that show that you have this tendency:
• You are good at really listening to what others have to say
• People often tell you about their problems
• You are good at picking up on how other people are feeling
• You often think about how other people feel
• Other people come to you for advice
• You try to help others who are suffering
• You are good at telling when people aren’t being honest
• You care deeply about other people
• You find it difficult to set boundaries in your relationships.
Impact of Empathy
Not everyone experiences empathy in every situation. Some people may be more naturally empathetic in general, but people also tend to feel more empathetic toward some people and less so toward others. Some of the factors that play a role in this tendency include:
• How you perceive the other person
• How do you attribute the other individual’s behaviors
• What you blame for the other person’s difficulty
• Your past experiences and expectations
At the most basic level, there appear to be two main factors that contribute to the ability to experience empathy: genetics and socialization. Essentially, it boils down to the age-old relative contributions of nature and nurture.
Parents pass down genes that contribute to overall personality, including the propensity toward sympathy, empathy and compassion. On the other hand, people are also socialized by their parents, peers, communities and society. How people treat others, as well as how they feel about others, is often a reflection of the beliefs and values that were instilled at a very young age.
Tips for Practicing Empathy
Fortunately, empathy is a skill that you can learn and strengthen. If you would like to build your empathy skills, there are a few things that you can do:
• Work on listening to people without interrupting
• Pay attention to body language and other types of nonverbal communication
• Try to understand people, even when you don’t agree with them
• Ask people questions to learn more about them and their lives
• Imagine yourself in another person’s shoes
• Strengthen your connection with others to learn more about how they feel
• Look for ways in which you are similar to others versus focusing on differences
• Be willing to be vulnerable, opening up about how you feel
• Get involved in organizations that push for social changes and wellbeing
• Accept feedback and criticism
As human beings, we must pay attention to empathy. At workplaces, leaders must not miss the tones of empathy. They must actively work to develop their interpersonal skills and do so across all dimensions. It is important to develop a deeply meaningful relationship that will turn into loyalty.
Hasan Taiab Imam
Head of Group HR, Bengal Group of Industries
‘Decentralization Could Bring Tremendous Benefits to Bangladesh’
In many cities, numerous businesses would have flourished, leading to increased employment opportunities and economic growth. However, the current scenario reveals a concentration of jobs in a single city, resulting in overcrowding and pollution as individuals from other districts flock to this central location.
To illustrate, had private company headquarters and government offices been established in various cities, it would have paved the way for enhanced business prospects in sectors like hospitality and travel. Well-known brands such as Sailor, Artisan, as well as popular food chains like KFC and Pizza Hut could have expanded their operations across different districts.
Prior, it appears that the majority of startup and business competition is centered around Dhaka city, with other cities like Chattogram and Sylhet also making notable progress. However, if it were to consider launching a hotel chain similar to OYO (an Indian multinational hospitality chain) in Bangladesh. In that case, it might encounter challenges when scaling it beyond the limited market reach of Dhaka, Chattogram, Sylhet, Cox Bazar, and a few other cities. This is concerning given that the country ranks as the eighth most populous in the world, offering a potentially scalable market. The issue lies in the problem of centralization, where a significant portion of the population residing in Dhaka and Chattogram utilizes apps like Chaldal for their daily grocery shopping, while the adoption rate in other cities remains significantly lower or even non-existent. The data itself indicates this disparity. Although the number of people in Dhaka and Chattogram habitually utilizing apps and websites is on the rise, residents of numerous other cities are falling behind. Unfortunately, decentralization poses a substantial challenge to our country’s development.
Zarif Rashid Ahmed Fuad
CEO & Founder at Seuor.Inc
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