Have a Heart

Introduction by Lorraine Bello, CEO & President:

In 2019, we live and work in a culture that is driven by technology. We get our news, share experiences and communicate with each other through devices. We convey messages in images and short video clips.  We communicate in short, efficient phrases and even acronyms (gtg – got to go, brb – be right back, ily – I love you). We multitask. And, we skim.

The art of listening, engaging and responding with genuine interest too often gets lost in this new landscape.

Empathy is a key value for REA. It defines us and differentiates us from competitors. Our ability to actively listen and seek to understand helps us to offer unique employer, employee and family relocation solutions and enables us to deliver outstanding experiences and outcomes for our clients and families in transition around the world.

REA strives to demonstrate empathy and care in all of our relationships – with our service partners, companies, clients, and with each other throughout the organization.  Of course, our talented, compassionate career coaches practice this daily with genuine enthusiasm as they care deeply about the individuals and families they serve. We know this because their clients tell us time and time again.  Here is an article from one such coach, Marie Haraburda.

By Marie Haraburda, GCDF

“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Companies realize that in addition to business skills, soft skills are essential, especially empathy or simply put, “heart.” To be successful today, leaders realize the value of relationships and connections, and of building trust. This environment of trust is called psychological safety and holds a value of positivity.

According to Dr. Brene’ Brown in her book, Daring Greatly, the more you invest into a relationship, the greater the level of trust. Dr. Brown uses a metaphor of a jar of marbles based on levels of trust. Each positive interaction adds a marble to the jar, while each negative takes a marble away. It can’t be a one-way street because lack of positive interaction can be perceived as a negative environment.

Much of this psychological safety involves the way the brain is wired, with the prefrontal cortex being the brain’s executive center right behind the forehead. It has circuits that make us feel positive, engaged and happy – which helps us to function at an optimum level. Other circuits inject negativity, less energy and leave us feeling down in the dumps, thusly, decreasing our ability to be creative and productive.

What does this mean for the workplace? And how does this impact business? Employees need to feel safe and comfortable at work to perform well. According to Forbes, true empathy combines understanding both the emotional and the logical rationale that goes into every decision. Communication skills have long been touted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) as a top ten soft skill employers seek, but empathy takes communication to a deeper level of connection and understanding.

Empathy connects us to each other and builds trusting relationships and more effective, caring teams. It has often been touted that teamwork increases success, and empathy is the key force that brings a team together in a formed alliance.

An effective manager is more likely to seek knowledge and opinions from valued team members before acting, or just engage an employee to check in with them. An environment of trust and understanding not only makes the workplace more comfortable and enjoyable, but also increases productivity and creativity. Many company leaders are turning to life coaches and learning to “coach” their employees through the use of powerful questions geared to getting to the root of any situation before it becomes a road block. Anyone will tend to shut down when faced with what they perceive as negative interactions or even lack of interaction. When an employee shuts down and doesn’t feel valued, they are more likely to seek a job opportunity outside of the company.

Managers and colleagues are human beings and leadership is a role we play. When we treat others with empathy and compassion in the way we want to be treated in return, trust is formed and psychological safety develops. This in turn increases innovative thinking and productivity. How might this be experienced? Even the more introverted colleagues often feel more comfortable and confident to speak up in team situations when psychological safety is created. The entire team bonds and works as one force, which provides a better environment for the business. Empathy is the force that supports increased employee satisfaction and retention, which greatly impacts the bottom line.

Career coaches at REA practice empathy when coaching clients for optimum results. Empathetic relationship building is a tool that creates effective relationships throughout our connections with family members at home, too. According to Dr. Brown, vulnerability is not weakness. True vulnerability requires strength. When you put your authentic self out in the world with compassion and empathy, you’re demonstrating strength of character.

TIPS:

  • Communicate with candor, listen with vulnerability
  • Bring your authentic self to the team or situation
  • Look beyond the work performance to what the employee might or might not be going through
  • Give your colleague the benefit of the doubt
  • Question your assumptions
  • Have those difficult conversations – be vulnerable
  • Consider team building exercises
  • Check in with team members at least once a week
  • Use Powerful questions, such as “What is important?” “What is happening now?” “What will be the impact?”