Empathy is a great communication skill in that a person is sensing the emotions of others. Having empathy allows people to connect and build camaraderie and kindred spirit among each other. A lack of empathy will cause stress or become a barrier to a working relationship.
When there is a lack of empathy, many times there is a deficit in communication and camaraderie. This is illustrated in many Dilbert cartoons that depict an uncaring boss that creates a barrier through the lack of communication and empathy with the employee.
As fellow workers in healthcare, we need to remember it is not just how we communicate with each other that is important, it is how we connect and empathize with each other that builds trusting relationships and a foundational core for a healthcare environment of excellence.
The mission and motivation of healthcare leaders as an industry is to improve the health and wellbeing of others in a safe environment. The Joint Commission, the largest healthcare accrediting body for healthcare organizations in America, refers to this as a “Do no harm” mission that supports the adaption of high-reliability initiatives.
An empathetic environment supports this mantra. Practicing organizational mindfulness around empathy helps us to be aware of the perspectives of other people, yet not feel overwhelmed when we encounter people’s negative emotions.