We’ve all experienced moments in our lives when we need to get something done ASAP. Get out the door to school, get an email sent before the end of the day, make a phone call to arrange last minute childcare for the evening.
At these moments of ‘hurry’, we can lose the empathy we might otherwise demonstrate. We lose empathy for our co-workers, for our children, and for ourselves.
I’ve recognized a few ways that I can slow down the daily rush and be a more empathetic parent as well as co-worker and I hope you find them helpful as well:
Take myself out of the equation.
At work: One tendency of mine is to step in and fix everything. To tell my co-workers what to do. But how does that serve us as a company in the long run? I need to be empathetic to the learning process. It’s necessary to have expectations but to also identify how I can I help my team grow. This might not align with my immediate needs for efficiency or work done exactly as I would do it, but being an empathetic manager means being aware that it’s not all about me all the time.
At home: I want to fix situations, clean up messes, or tie shoes for my children. Rather than always stepping in, I can allow the time and space for my children to work on their own schedule. Acknowledging that I have needs and wants but consciously stepping aside will help my children be happy, independent learners.
At Work: We’re often asked to make snap-judgements in our work environment. Good, bad, yes, no. But if I make an assumption too quickly, could I be missing out on an opportunity to iterate and collaborate? If I step back to ask questions, I’m able to peel back the layers in the decision making process to learn more about my employees and what they might be capable of.
At Home: It’s nap time, and my older child is crying. I find time and again that taking a brief pause to ask, “What’s going on?” returns much better results than leading with a more demanding “It’s nap time.” By showing empathy and asking questions, my child knows she can trust me to listen.
Allow time for the process.
At Work: As a small business owner, I feel the expectation that I need to “know everything.” Make all the right decisions, know the answers. But I don’t (always). If I’m more empathetic to myself in the moments of uncertainty, I can let go of the end goal and embrace the process of learning something new about myself and my company.
At Home: As a parent, I feel the expectation that I need to “know everything.” That’s not a typo, it’s the same as above! But “knowing everything” is harder than it seems, and I need to remember that parenting is a process as well. As my children and their needs change, I can learn alongside them.
Being empathetic as a parent and as a professional takes practice, time and understanding, but it’s not impossible. The three tips above helped me slow down, especially in the hurried moments of daily life, and I hope they help you as well.
About the Author:
Natalie Foley loves making things happen, collaborating to solve problems, innovation and change. She’s a mom and wife, and serves as VP & COO for an incredible team at Peer Insight.
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