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Effective communication in the workplace
Effective communication in the workplace

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4.2 Empathy

Another skill linked closely to effective communication is empathy. Watch this short video from CivCom to find out more about using empathy at work.

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You might think that people are either empathetic or they are not, but research suggests that empathy is partly innate and partly learned, and something we can all improve on. Author and leading authority on building client relationships, Andrew Sobel (no date) recommends the following actions:

  • Challenge yourself – learning a new skill or competency will humble you and humility is a key enabler of empathy.
  • Get out of your usual environment, e.g. through travel to somewhere you wouldn’t normally go – it gives you a better appreciation for others.
  • Get feedback – ask for feedback about your relationship skills from family, friends and colleagues, and reflect on it.
  • Examine your biases – we all have hidden biases that interfere with our ability to listen and empathise, e.g. relating to age, or gender.
  • Ask better questions – aim to bring three or four thoughtful questions to every conversation.

It is interesting to note the recurring themes of feedback, listening and effective questioning, which you’ve already seen are key to effective communication.