First of all: what is it?
According to OpenPhilanthropy.org, radical empathy is defined as the combination of two terms:
“’Radical’ is intended as the opposite of “traditional” or “conventional. It refers to working hard to make the best choices [one] can, without anchoring to convention.
‘Empathy’ is intended to capture the idea that one could imagine oneself in another’s position, and recognizes the other as having experiences that are worthy of consideration.”
Put them together, and what do you have?
Radical empathy (n) – the concept of working to one’s best ability to place themselves in the shoes of another, to a breadth that others may consider abnormal.
That’s all well and good. It makes sense, but, especially in our current climate, professional success requires employees and associates have more than an understanding of vocab words.
As the old adage says, “actions speak louder than words.”
How do I practice radical empathy?
It goes beyond offering condolences for a sick child and accepting a project an hour late.
Here are a few tips on implementing radical empathy in the work force.
Yes, pay attention when someone is speaking, but more importantly make yourself available! You could be the kindest, most thoughtful person in the office, but if no one knows how to reach you, you might as well be cold as ice.
Presenting yourself as open and interested in the lives of those you work with translates to not only a more positive organizational culture but also a better employer brand.
Encourage different perspectives.
Every day, you work with people representing different backgrounds, heritages, cultures and more. Encourage them to share their ideas and experiences. Create an atmosphere of psychological safety, so your team feels comfortable being candid. The more voices you’re able to hear, the better your organization’s cooperation, motivation, and productivity will become.
Take the next step.
Sometimes, all someone needs is to know that they’re understood and appreciated. Other times, demonstrating radical empathy requires you to take steps to improve someone’s life in a more direct way. Trust your gut. If you sense someone needs more than a sympathetic ear, ask what more you can do to help.
If you’re an account manager, clients expect you to be competent – and an expert in staffing. If you’re a recruiter, candidates rely on you for sound advice about important career decisions. And if you’re in a leadership role, it’s natural to want to appear confident, knowledgeable and in control.
Right now, however, it’s critical to connect with others on a personal level. Share personal anecdotes. Be humble. Show a bit of vulnerability when it’s warranted. Humanizing yourself will make others relate to you more easily and help inspire more authentic conversations.
Why do I care?
Practicing radical empathy in the office can pose challenges, especially when missed deadlines and postponed projects can come as a result. It’s important to consider, however, how the alternative can affect what’s really at the heart of the staffing industry – people.
2020 has proven to be one of the most unpredictable years in recent history, and constant change has put massive amounts of stress on virtually everyone. Providing flexibility and alternatives in the face of an unprecedented situation is key to the continued success of your organization.
Our people are nothing without kindness, support, and understanding, and, let’s face it: we’re nothing without our people.
We understand these are challenging times, both in and out of the staffing industry. At Haley Marketing, we’re here to help – reach out to us today or visit our COVID-19 recovery resources to learn more.