Communicating clearly and communicating empathetically are far from the same. If you’re struggling to maintain engaged teams—to get everyone on the same page in spite of your efforts—it might be time to move past the communication basics and try these 6 steps at communicating more effectively.
“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communicationJim Rohn
skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style,
the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.”
Every day, I witness entrepreneurs and visionary leaders unknowingly erode the enthusiasm, effectiveness, and engagement of their teams.
And in the process, these founders and CEOs fracture team coherence, vital connection with their ideal clients, and the company’s ability to execute seamlessly.
Opportunities to close new clients and deliver extraordinary experiences—gone. Crucial tasks slip through the cracks, causing customer frustration, costly delays and do-overs, and diminished team morale.
On the surface, these entrepreneurial leaders are doing well with communication basics. For the most part, they are clear and concise. They are careful with their tone.
So what is missing?
How Communicating Empathetically Is the Missing Piece
Empathy—the ability to understand the feelings of another.
Did your hackles just rise? Are you feeling defensive? Are you thinking to yourself, “Oh, come on! I don’t have time to coddle everyone—I’d never get anything done!”
Empathy is the most overlooked ingredient in business and personal relationship success. Communicating empathetically is not babying another person. Rather, it is taking a few minutes to ask yourself what someone most needs to hear and understand in this moment.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?
Our tendency, though, is to cut to the chase, wrap it up, and move on. And in that vacuum are enormous financial and interpersonal costs.
We think we may be saving precious time by keeping our communication curt. The opposite is true. By not communicating empathetically, we generate some of the biggest hidden costs in our relationships and businesses.
Communicating empathetically requires that we pause our fascination with ourselves for a few minutes and step into the shoes of another person. We can consider what we believe a person is feeling and thinking, and then ask ourselves if it were us, what is it we’d want someone to tell us.
This is true regardless if the communication is between a leader and their team, between the team and a client, or between the business and prospective clients.
Communicating Empathetically in 6 Steps:
2. Anticipate where miscommunication may rear its head. Think through the entire chain of communication, checking for weak links. Where are there potential areas for misunderstanding?
3. Scan for opportunities to enhance cohesive team dynamics and performance, a client’s sense of being seen and heard, and/or a team member’s understanding of their vital nature to the project’s overall success.
4. Ask yourself: “If this were me, what would I most need to hear right now?”
5. Formulate your message accordingly and take the time needed to express yourself (whether in writing or verbally) with clarity, calm, and compassion.
6. Invite clarifying questions and discussion.
Our brain wants to tell us that all of this is a waste of time and energy. This is precisely why we tend to avoid doing it. We are busy people, after all.
My invitation is for you to experiment with communicating empathetically. Try it today with a team member or client. Witness the ripple effects throughout your organization and/or how your client engages with you as a result.
Communicating from a place of profound empathy elevates all of our relationships as well as our personal and business success. Importantly, we also enjoy a renewed sense of connection to ourselves, our biggest dreams, and our vision for impacting the world.