The New Empathy And Trust

Written by Mathieu Yuill

April 13, 2020

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and organizations will need to build new bridges with their employees around empathy and trust. We’re seeing an increase in it right now.

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Good day and welcome to the leading with nice daily. My name is Mathieu Yuill and this week we’re going to be looking at empathy and trust and specifically how it is playing out now and how it will play out into the future and for those of you who are listening to this not in the week I recorded it, we are talking about and we are living through the COVID-19 crisis, so this past week or two we’ve been speaking to, my team and myself have been speaking to a bunch of really smart people about how they see what’s happening today playing out to the future and how employees and leaders will react to the current situation and how that will impact us because no one is in a work sense of normal like they were in November, December. Some of us are working at home, some of us are laid off, some of us are working even more because we’re essential services and we’re required to work longer shifts, more hours in potentially hazardous conditions.

The point being is no one is in a normal situation for work right now. Now, especially those who are working at home. The one criticism I’ve heard from leaders about people who want to work at home or work remotely is that, you know, if I can’t see them, I don’t know they’re working and I think they’re going to goof off or not pay attention or not do their work well. We see now that that attitude is folly. A lot of great production is happening right now. However, when we go back to work, employees will expect this type of trust and empathy for their situations. And if you go back to the old way, you will lose because some companies will recognize this and double down and look at what technology they need, what systems they need to implement, and really lean into this working remotely situation.

So how can you demonstrate empathy and trust today so that you will win going forward? Well, the first thing is to ensure that you are happy when you do communicate with your coworkers that you have some personal talk, you have some relational talk and it’s not just straight-up like, okay, a welcome to the webinar. Now we’ve got to get to the widgets and the TPS reports. No, like check in on people. How are they doing? How are their kids? I’m not suggesting you need to fake it if you’re not like necessarily a really, you know, interpersonal type person, but definitely just show some empathy and trust that while they’re trying to deal with kids at home and they’re getting the work done, that they’re probably working late into the evening or they’re working extra diligent or they’re doing something crazy to make sure they’re getting the work done.

You can show trust into the future by talking about, Hey, you know, when we returned to the normal, what do you think we’ve learned from this that we could really take and have a big win with? Trust them that they are also experiencing things that you could become beneficial for your organization. Now, here are a few exercises you can do right now to increase your empathy that will help you win today and will help you win when we get back to the new normal. Now, Aristotle used to say this, read fiction. If you want to know what did happen, read nonfiction. If you want to know what could happen, read fiction. And he said that because you can only begin to see the future and dream and understand how other people might think and react. If you’re reading stories about made-up or fictitious events, it really helps you put yourself in other people’s shoes.

So during this time, even if it’s a one minute story online, a short story, or you’re reading a novel because you just have a bit more time for that right now, read fiction, it will help you understand and empathize with your coworkers. Another trick you can do is just daydream about what your other people might be going through. Start playing that out in your mind. It will really help you instinctively be more empathetic towards them. These are both the two tips I just shared are scientifically proven to work. It’s been tested, in academic settings to show that it is essential to build an empathy. So as I spoke about earlier, trust will be so important. Employees have been told for many years, Oh, you can’t work remotely or at home because you need to be the office. We need to see you. It’s better that way.

Well, we are seeing right now, none of that is necessarily true. I’m not saying you never have to be in the office, but we see now that you can work remotely and be just as productive as if you were in the office. So to build that trust, how are you going to both start trusting your employees and have them trust you? So a few things you can do is set up little micro objectives during this time. I know you probably are thinking about big things and you’re overwhelmed. Set up micro objectives that you can all win at and then intentionally celebrate meeting those objectives if you don’t have trust or if it’s not a high level of capacity for that in your office. This is integral. We also did a webinar a couple of days ago on our website on this exact topic. If you missed it, definitely check out sign up for the email newsletter where we shared leadership and team-building tips and you will get access to the replay.

It’s really dense with some great information on how to build empathy and trust for now to the future and I want to talk to you today about why this is so important during this time to build empathy and trust into the future. People will be coming back to the new normal whenever that might be and they will be emotionally less resilient. They will be a bit more skeptical. We’ve been told to keep distance from each other. We’ve really been told that even though we are naturally social beings that seek community, that is the opposite of what you want. We won’t know how to react. Will we even shake hands? Will shaking hands be something reserved for only our most trusted confidence that will not work longterm, but I, I believe that’s what we’re being set up for right now. Why you want to start building trust and empathy today is so that when you return to the new normal, you can hit your stride much faster and actually have a higher capacity across your organization.

Start doing things intentionally to build your empathy and trust or your coworkers. And I would even suggest start sharing those plans or those things you’re thinking about right now. Be transparent about what you think the new normal might look like. I know we’re right in the thick of it. I’m not suggesting you spend all your day or a whole day or even half a day, but if it’s one 20th of your week this week where you just share that, that will go a long way to letting your colleagues know and those you lead that this is something you’re thinking about today and it will give them so much confidence in your leadership abilities. And also we’ll do tons to increase their empathy and trust in you. That’s all for this week. Thank you so much. Stay safe for more on this topic. Visit where we want to help you inspire others, build loyalty, and get results. Talk to you next week.


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