Need a Word for the New Year? Try Empathy

Traditionally, holiday time is when we wind down, relax and gather the energy to forge ahead into what will hopefully be a good and prosperous new year.


While many are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead, other just plain get the ‘willies.’


  • Do I have the wherewithal to accomplish everything I want to this year?
  • Can I increase my customer base by 20%
  • Will I make my numbers?


I don’t know.  What I do know is that those who succeed are those who are mindful and attuned to the needs of others in both their private and professional lives.


We call it empathy, and no business can thrive without it. In fact, I encourage everyone to make “Empathy” their word for the New Year.


Empathy is one of those soft skills you reap the benefit of over time.  Like everything else worth having.  Although some people are more empathetic by nature, it’s a talent everyone can cultivate.


It’s been shown that the most respected and successful leaders employ empathy in their business strategies. They gain perspective, and a far greater understanding of the wants and needs of their customers.  It also allows them the opportunity to fine tune decision making to better serve their target markets – or create new ones.


So as the year winds down and we become more reflective and relaxed, here are some tips to help you to become more mindful and empathetic to people in your personal and professional lives:


  1. Practice active listening. Remember, listening requires more than a set of ears.  It takes your eyes as well as your heart. Pay attention to body language, tone of voice, quirks and mannerisms. The message is not only in the content but in the context.
  2. Let people speak. Hear them out before you offer your two cents. Everyone deserves to be heard.
  3. Be in the moment. Don’t let distractions get in the way. People deserve to have your complete attention.
  4. Remember, as a general rule, people retain perhaps 7 % of the message being communicated.  The rest comes from body language and attitude.
  5. Call people by name.
  6. Be fully present when you are with people. Don’t check your email, look at your watch or take phone calls when a direct report drops into your office to talk to you. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if your boss did that to you?
  7. Smile at people.
  8. Encourage people to voice their views and not be afraid to speak up..It boosts confidence.,
  9. Praise others often.
  10. Take a personal interest in people. Show people that you care, and genuine curiosity about their lives.


Leaders who demonstrate empathy encourage trust, build relationships, increase their loyal customer base and grow word of mouth.  You can’t ask for anything better than that.


To all, a happy, and more empathetic new year.

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