Respect is one of those values that’s fairly universally understood. We know and accept the saying “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. After all, most people would like to think of themselves as respectful people.
The thing is though, when it comes to workplace conversations, respect is not always obviously present. Why is that?
One reason may be due to empathy, or lack of it. Have you ever worked with that certain colleague you just don’t like very much? I bet you find it difficult to talk to them respectfully. Or maybe you find it challenging to have a respectful conversation with someone when they’ve done something you don’t agree with? They may have broken workplace rules, done something underhand or perhaps they just aren’t pulling their weight. Maybe you feel they’ve disrespected you?
In situations like these, are you able to see things from their point of view?
How easy or difficult is it to empathise with them?
Empathising is about paying full attention to other people. It’s about really listening to what they say (and noticing what they don’t say). It’s about trying to put yourself in their position to understand how they may be feeling and why they may have acted in the way they have. In other words, it’s genuinely attempting to see things from their perspective. Really understanding what life is like for them. Having a sense of what they are feeling.
Teaching ourselves to respond with empathy and to see situations through someone else’s eyes is a win-win situation. There really are no losers. Responding with empathy can help you cope more effectively with conflict or disagreement. In fact, it can prevent misunderstandings and inaccurate assumptions, as well as reducing feelings of stress.
So next time you notice you’re finding it difficult to be respectful – STOP. Take a moment to put yourself in the other person shoes. Get curious and notice more carefully what’s happening from their perspective. Try to see things from their point of view. Yes, you will probably find it challenging, but you may also be surprised by how you feel when you flex your empathy muscles.
Want to know more?
Sarah Harvey is the Founding Director of Savvy Conversations Ltd and author of the highly acclaimed book “Savvy Conversations: A practical framework for effective workplace relationships.”
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/savvysarah