13 Ways Managers Can Boost Their EQ And Show Genuine Empathy
For an organization to succeed, its employees need to feel well-supported, fulfilled by meaningful work and motivated to reach their maximum potential in terms of performance and productivity. Much of this depends on the emotional intelligence, or EQ, of their manager. To achieve this level of employee engagement, managers must learn to demonstrate genuine empathy for their team members.
If you find it challenging to show authentic empathy, you can focus on boosting your EQ to more effectively lead your team. To help you ensure your team members don’t feel misunderstood or neglected, 13 members of Forbes Coaches Council shared their best advice on how to effectively improve your EQ and better connect with them.
1. Learn To Understand Your Own Emotions
If you want to develop and hone your EQ, it starts with critical self-reflection. If you don’t understand yourself, you will never understand the nuances and complexities of others around you. Learn to understand your own emotions and their impact on your behavior. Foster and practice self-compassion, and you’ll be in a better position to show genuine empathy and support those around you. – Jonathan H. Westover, Utah Valley University & Human Capital Innovations, LLC
2. Ask Questions And Listen To The Answers
Empathy is one of the most important things we can bring to our teams right now. It begins with asking questions and listening to the answers. Asking, “How are you doing—really?” is a good start. Then, listen. Find moments as they give their answers to build trust and connect with them by sharing something you have experienced along the same lines. Psychological safety can’t be built without empathy. Exercise your empathy muscle daily so it grows. – Jen Croneberger, JLynne Consulting Group
3. Keep A List Of What And Who You’re Grateful For
If you’re unable to be empathetic, it’s questionable whether you should be in leadership, period. To shift this, focus on what and who you’re grateful for and start to keep a gratitude list by writing down three things you’re grateful for every morning. I’d also suggest putting yourself in the shoes of someone who is underprivileged and spend a day living that life. It will provide you with perspectives that are required for empathy. – Lauren Cooney, Spark Labs
4. Help Employees Achieve Goals That Matter To Them
As a manager, it might be impossible to understand the feelings and experiences that each person on your team is going through. Yet, it’s fully possible to do what matters to them. Maintain a list of one big goal that each team member or team as a whole is trying to achieve that would make them feel awesome at work. Then, do everything in your capacity to help individuals and teams achieve their goals. – Vinesh Sukumaran, Vinesh Sukumaran Consulting
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5. Create ‘Trigger’ Moments To Activate Empathy
The more we connect with the lives and feelings of others, the more we understand ourselves. So, in order to develop empathy and a higher EQ, I suggest creating “trigger” moments to activate the habit of being empathetic toward others. This may be as simple as setting an alarm to go off on your phone three times a day with a label as a reminder. The trigger enacts the new behavior, and it becomes second nature over time. – Erin Miller, Erin Miller Inc
6. Practice Identifying Emotional States
I recommend an intentional practice of identifying the emotional state that you and/or those you’re talking to are in. Naming the emotion you are having or that you believe the other person is experiencing will develop your awareness of feelings, allowing you to build an emotional vocabulary. Such a vocabulary can then be used for further developing empathy. – Ron N Hurst, Developing Leaders
7. Gain A Sense Of How You’re Perceived
As with any skill you want to build, when EQ doesn’t come naturally, it takes practice. Start by ensuring that team members are clear on where they are and their impact on others within the organization. Gather 360-degree feedback, take personality assessments and self-reflect. This helps to gain a sense of how you are perceived. Work with a coach to identify growth opportunities and ways to practice EQ that are uniquely suited to you. – Melissa Eisler, Wide Lens Leadership
8. Use A Personality Assessment Tool
I would recommend the manager use an assessment tool such as DISC for themselves and each team member. In reading the results, a manager can gain insight into the motivations, strengths and inclinations of team members and better understand how to successfully engage with them. – Lisa Marie Platske, Upside Thinking, Inc.
9. Practice Expanding Compassion
You can close your eyes and visualize and feel the compassion and love you have for those who are closest to you. Then, expand your compassion and love to others in your social circle. Eventually, expand it to your co-workers and employees. With a daily practice of doing this for three to five minutes each morning, you can train yourself to have greater empathy. – Purdeep Sangha, Sangha Worldwide
10. Slow Down And Take A Pause
For many, learning to lead with empathy is about suspending their personal orientation toward action. It means slowing down, which can be difficult and uncomfortable. Yet, this pause is a tangible sign of empathy. I suggest that leaders take a pause, both physically and mentally, to show empathy. Relax in your chair, put your agenda aside, stop using the keyboard and simply say, “Tell me more …” – Marita Decker, FutureCourse Education
11. Quiet Your Ego And Be Slower To Judge
Empathy is a choice. It’s typically the ego that doesn’t care about someone else’s feelings or well-being. It’s too busy to stop and think about someone else’s situation or perspective. It’s the ego that says things such as, “I don’t have time to babysit,” or, “They need to do their job.” As a leader in today’s fast-paced world, slow down and ask why someone is doing what they do instead of quickly judging their actions. – Christie Garcia, Mindful Choice, LLC.
12. Follow The 80/20 Rule When Talking With Employees
Ask more and talk less. In order to have empathy, you must truly understand someone. In order to understand someone, you must listen to them and ask questions to help you clarify what you don’t know. I have an 80/20 rule for communicating with my team members. My goal for an employee one-on-one is for them to be talking 80% of the time and me for 20%. This ensures that they feel heard, that I better understand them, and that we can build strong relationships. – Zander Fryer, High Impact Coaching
13. Practice A Self-Awareness Exercise
Practicing empathy starts with self-awareness. I usually suggest people think about a situation where they were excluded. I ask them to sit with the feeling and explain how it impacted them physically, emotionally, physiologically and mentally as well as the lingering effects of it. Then, I help them see that this is how others feel when they are excluded and ask if they would subject anyone to the same. This is a start. – Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh, Sahar Consulting, LLC