Practice Empathy for a peaceful life – A case study

The Sales team of a Pharma company was present for a project review meeting. John the project lead, felt excited to share his carefully researched presentation with his boss Sonia, and other team members. But he could not notice the same project zeal in his boss and can understand that she was stressed. It was apparent to other team members as well. Ignoring the tense atmosphere he carried out with his presentation and tried to involve the attendees. The session was going smoothly, with a proper explanation of all plan of actions required for the project. However, Sonia pointed out a minor error and berated John for not considering tiny points. She also accused the team of not putting in quality efforts. Her hurtful words embarrassed John and he felt disappointed, even the team was demotivated by Sonia’s harsh behaviour. The meeting could not be concluded and ended before the schedule.

As the week passed John and the team expected their boss to apologize for her behaviour. But Sonia didn’t however she was able to notice the team’s resentful and unproductive behaviour after the incident. She was remorseful over her harsh behaviour which resulted because of her wrestle with business continuity planning during COVID-19.  She was feeling unhappy, apologetic, and was worried about losing out a collaborative team. Being an empathetic leader she has always inspired and empowered her team but the incident loosened the bond. Sonia felt remorse for her actions but was struggling to express it in an appropriate way.

We know, all of us make mistakes and disappoint people around us somewhere or the other. But accepting the mistakes and apologizing help us become a good leader, build trust and understanding in our relationship. It also restores the dignity of the hurt person, makes them feel comfortable, and strengthens our bond with them.

But apologizing is not always easy, it is sometimes challenging for many of us. As humans, we all like to receive a heartfelt apology, but giving it, is a challenging endeavor. An Apology doesn’t come easily or naturally for most people, because they fail to identify a suitable way to express it. So, let’s try to find out some alternative behaviour in Sonia’s case to express apology.

  1. Mention and discuss the important points in the presentation through email
  2. Sharing some important links for improvement in projects
  3. Write an email or message  appreciating John’s performance in last projects
  4. Discussing a last successful project with the team
  5. Posting a picture of team achievements on social media or intranet
  6. Ask for assistance in a different on-going project
  7. Call on a team meeting to discuss the situation(COVID in this case) and brainstorm the ideas for a proper plan of action
  8. Arranging for a stress management program
  9. Organize a team lunch or get together
  10. Depicting a calm and caring behaviour

There could be numerous other ways to express regret and acknowledge fault but we struggle sometimes considering our position and image. Being a great boss doesn’t mean one has to be perfect all the time, what matters more is your readiness to acknowledge your faults and other people feel. And you would be able to do this only when you are an empathetic person. Empathy enables us to open our hearts and mind and understand the world from the perspective of others. Sonia was unhappy because she was able to identify her fault and was empathetic towards John and her team. Empathy not only makes you a successful leader but also plays a critical role in understanding and resolving conflict. It helps you establish trust and build relationships. Empathy shapes an individual and also transforms society. It develops an individual’s ability to humanize with others and create a better understanding of situations. This promotes harmony among people and helps in finding an easy solution to any conflict or problem. After all, empathy is not only an important trait in the workplace but also in your personal life as well.

So, let’s empathize to establish a better workplace and live a peaceful life.

There is something best about her – She is self-aware

Radhika is a highly admired Manager of a small team. Calm and confident, she is empathetic and serves people in their frame of reference. She is hardworking and never gives up or discouraged when things don’t go logical. With her ability to deliver, and creativity to think out of the box she can demonstrate high performance in projects of utmost importance. She handles the situation with a solutions approach instead of escalating them. Her team finds her emotionally stable and psychologically feels safe around her. She empowers them by pointing out their potential and avoid micromanaging. Her colleagues feel happy to have a trustworthy, friendly co-worker and often compliments Radhika for her calm. I see people in the company greeting her with flowers and cards because of her empathetic and kind behavior. Married to a successful businessman she remains preoccupied with personal commitments, but she keeps herself aware, accepting, and attuned to hers’ and other’s needs. Apart from having abilities of achievement, conflict management, teamwork, and leadership, Radhika demonstrates high levels of empathy and self-control. You would now be wondering who Radhika is?

Radhika Kaushik was the Team Lead with Philips Electronics, working in the capacity of Manager – HR she handles the regional HR team for the north. I always felt lucky to have such an easy and outgoing Leader for our team. Now, what is best about Radhika? Yes, she was on her high levels of emotional intelligence, which always keep her ready to take any kind of challenge in life. People like her demonstrates mastery of emotional ups and downs because they are aware of who they are and who they are not. It is so paramount to remain self-aware of who we are?

You would be curious to know more about Self-awareness. Being familiar with our inner self, strength, weaknesses, thoughts, and coding is Self-awareness. Most people when you ask them who they are, they will give you their name, profession, or relationship. This is because they fail to identify their inner-self, the personality they are carrying within, the skills and abilities they are gifted naturally. They will not look deep inside and discover who they truly are, who they truly are in their call. We are born with a soul and spirit and we grow up learning from those around us. So we need to know who we are, to align ourselves in response to one another’s needs. Now let’s deep dive to know what Self-awareness is, and how can we improve it.

Self-awareness is a conscious knowledge and perception of one’s own personality including character, emotions, strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, and actions. It helps you identify yourself, understand others, and their perception of your behavior in different situations. Self-awareness gives you a direction and focus to determine your emotions and behavior in life.  Being self-aware helps us understand our behaviors and the effect on people around us. If we learn to recognize our emotions and reactions we can work to improve on any that we think are negative.

There are various benefits of being self-aware as below –

  1. Knowing about your inner-self and personality makes you grateful for who you are
  2. Keeping yourself aware can help you get along with similarly coded people and get rid of toxic people in life
  3. Knowing who you are and will help you live and work in the present
  4. Being self-aware increases your productivity and boosts your confidence.

Now we know the importance of self-awareness, let’s find out some ways to develop it.

Here are some strategies to become more self-aware-

  1. Meditation –Apart from weight loss to depression relief, meditation is also a powerful tool to learn about our patterns, mind frame, and thoughts. Meditation develops a calm and pleasant state of mind and drags our focus in the present. This can be done by breathing, exercise, imagination, and visualization with a relaxed body posture.
  2. Know yourself – The foundation of who you are lies within you. Discovering yourself by asking certain questions can get you to look at the bigger picture. Why you feel a certain way, what are your reactions to circumstances, what you want to achieve, whom you want to get along, or avoid can help you find out things that perhaps you do not even think of. One best way to do this is to take some psychometric or personality tests. On my journey of transformation, I went through multiple personality assessments which helped me identify my inner self, know my coding and patterns. You can opt for the same as per the authenticity and reliability of the measuring scale and parameters.
  3. Ask people around you – You can get great insight from your friends and family about their perception of your actions and behaviors. This will give you a third-person outlook of yourself. You can ask them to write about you and then try to identify the key concepts, which will help you improve and strengthen your self-awareness. But please make sure they only mention the best in you, the negative aspect would be done at a later stage.
  4. Know your baselines – They are the foundation of who you are, the core of one’s identity. A baseline is our core quality through which we feel and live our life. Our subconscious mind picks them up from different life experiences and the people around us. Awareness of our baselines helps us take great decisions, correct our actions, and get the desired results.
  5. Identify your Buzz Moments – Buzz moments are the happiest moments you create by doing activities that you love or what comes to you naturally. This can include any activity reading, cooking, painting, coaching, playing sports, or anything that you love, passionate, or good at. The intent is to identify more such activities in one’s life which makes the person happy and feel relax, this results in increased self-awareness.
  6. Ask for feedback – How often we deliberately ask for feedback? It’s very rare. However, we ignore the fact that constructive feedback is crucial to identify our blind spots and areas of improvement. Good feedback given by others is the fastest way to grow and improve ourselves. I always ask for feedback from people with whom I have enough relationship credit.  I can recall Radhika’s ability to deliver genuine and even difficult feedback to people. I thankfully acknowledge her constructive and valuable critique to me and my work which helped me in improving my work and relationship with then and future customers. Maintaining a continual I have always asked for feedback from appropriate people and taken it well to improve myself.

I was always fascinated by the aura Radhika depicted in her personal and business dealings but was not aware of her one quality of being self-aware. And finally one day she revealed her secret since then I started working on it and still continuing the journey of transformation and increasing my self-awareness. I thank all those people who directly or indirectly contributed to this transformation and continuum to improve on my self-awareness.

Considering further the development platform I still see plenty of other activities that we can dig into to improve our self-awareness irrespective of where we stand now. In the end, we all want self-awareness to live and lead effectively. It explains our successes and failures. A better understanding of who we are, help us remain self-aware, authentic, and open. It also impacts other aspects of our life, especially our interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships.

So guys, are you self-aware? If not, strive to be mindful and identify new dimensions with possibilities by becoming self aware. Feel free to reach out to me if you desire to explore more.