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The Empathy Factor in the Workplace
With Author, Marie Miyashiro
 

In this question-and-answer session with Marie Miyashiro, author of our newest title, The Empathy Factor, you will discover why empathy and NVC are so valuable in the workplace and how they truly can be "Your Competitive Advantage for Personal, Team, and Business Success". World-class business leaders and well respected NVC trainers endorse this new work as an important contribution to making workplaces both more compassionate and productive.
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Inspiration
 

"We can make life miserable or wonderful for ourselves and others depending upon how we think and communicate."

- Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.

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Special Notices

The Empathy Factor TeleCourses

The NVC Academy is offering two telecourses with the author in October. A free introductory session:

You can also register for the paid interactive telecourse series, where Gregg and Marie will engage you in the latest organizational research on empathy, and provide practical tips, handouts and experiential exercises specifically designed to help you develop your workplace skills:

 
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The Empathy Factor in the Workplace ... continued

What is The Empathy Factor about?

The Empathy Factor encourages the practice of empathy as a professional, workplace skill. It presents organizational research that supports empathy in the workplace as a key to collaboration, leadership and productivity and makes a case for Nonviolent Communication (NVC) as a preferred model for learning and deepening empathy at work.

In it, I also introduce the model I developed called, Integrated Clarity® (IC), which acts as a framework for "universal organizational needs" in the same way NVC focuses on universal human needs. In this way, a needs-based consciousness unifies both business aspects and people aspects. I discuss how empathy is a critical factor for workplace success at three levels - the level of the individual, interpersonal relationships with colleagues and between the organization and its customers.

The Empathy Factor is the first book I know of that shows step-by-step how to operate from a needs-based consciousness in the workplace with colleagues and customers while focusing on the needs of the organization at the same time. I've studied communication theories for many decades and NVC remains the quickest, most reliable, most trainable method for developing connection skills that I know of. Just about anyone can learn to develop a needs-based consciousness through these two models.

How did you get the idea to write The Empathy Factor?

As a consultant to organizations for over 28 years, I get to see a lot of what's working well and not so well with leaders, employees and teams. One of the first things I noticed is just how much discomfort there can be in the workplace - people thinking they're misunderstood, having their need for respect go unmet, their profound wish for success and to contribute something of value through their work can also be frustrated.

People really want to make a difference through work. They want meaning from work and to get up in the morning knowing they have the opportunity to contribute. So, when things aren't going as smoothly as they'd like, there can be frustration, lost productivity and lost opportunities - both on the human side and the profit or sustainability side of the equation.

What does empathy have to do with workplaces and business?

Much of the research on business success in the last decade focuses on how to harness the human element. For example, creating more productivity and collaboration with colleagues as well as how to really understand the customer at the deepest level. Empathy is a factor that up until recently, has not received as much attention as many other business topics.

As we're coming to understand now, it has potential for unleashing tremendous energy for business success because empathic connection is at the heart of productive and meaningful relationships. Since our entire global economy is shifting to one of complex interdependent relationships, this will continue to increase the value of the empathy factor in the years to come. Even now, empathy training is becoming one of the standard skills being developed in corporate cultures.

What do you say to those who feel that they don't want or need to bring empathy into the workplace?

First, I try to understand what they think empathy means. Often, I find they don't like the word or idea of empathy because they're defining it differently than I am. The empathy factor doesn't mean, "be soft," "be nice." It really is about connections to needs – the needs of you, colleagues and customers. Many business people are looking for ways to increase connections in business. So, when they hear that the empathy factor leads to more productivity, collaboration and often, more profits or sustainability, they usually want to hear more.

Second, I share that I think they'll miss a competitive advantage. In the next five years, you'll see quite a few companies focus on the empathy factor and empathic communication training for employees because it will make them better at fulfilling their mission, collaborating together and serving customer needs. We're already seeing how the empathy factor is a competitive advantage for the companies that are focusing on empathic relationships in the workplace. This trend will only continue and accelerate because the customer is becoming more sophisticated and the market more competitive.

What's the process for making workplaces more compassionate through empathy?

Compassion is the next level of empathic connection. Compassion is empathy in action – it's about being motivated to help someone or some situation. So in my view, empathy is the first step in a process to create more compassionate corporations - more socially responsible organizations.

Helping people in organizations become more self-aware of their impact on others and their environments leads to empathic connections, which in turn lead to compassionate workplaces and what I call "profiting with people, not from people." The development and maintenance of empathic connections and compassionate action in workplaces happens every day. The Empathy Factor shows how it’s being done and how we can create more of it.

You say in your book The Empathy Factor that empathy
is a trainable skill. How do you teach people to be more empathic?

When you look at the research about leadership and teamwork, it's surprising to me how often empathy shows up as a critical factor. That's why I called the book, The Empathy Factor. One thing the research doesn't do is show you the mechanics of empathy, how to actually practice it.

This is where the process of NVC is so important. Marshall Rosenberg developed NVC as an interpersonal communication model. Its four-part model of Observation, Feelings/Needs and Requests, lends itself to training. Similarly, the six universal organizational needs IC model that I work with organizes business research into a digestible, easier-to-understand framework. You don't have to be a therapist to understand and learn NVC. You don't have to be a business consultant to understand IC. This is part of the value of these two models – they are learnable.

What does this process look like?

It's a structured plan that begins with a small group of people, even one person, and works its way out into larger concentric circles around these early adopters. Components include training, celebrations/appreciations of the behaviors we want more of and integrating these values into decision-making processes, resource allocation systems, communication protocols and other key aspects of operations. All of this helps make compassion in organizations real but it starts with empathic connections.

Where can people get a more information about The Empathy Factor and your other work?

You can practice and apply the concepts in the book through the premier book event, an NVC Academy free introductory telecourse in October:

You can also register for the full telecourse series which includes the introductory session. The series will engage you in the latest organizational research on empathy, and provide practical tips, handouts and experiential exercises specifically designed to help you develop your workplace skills:

Find more information about me, Integrated Clarity®, and my other work at the website, www.EmpathyFactorAtWork.com. This website also provides free tips for making workplaces more empathic, compassionate, collaborative and productive. Our firm provides organization development consulting and communication training. We help leaders and teams improve collaboration, productivity and morale. Our approach focuses on exercising the power of empathy in working with customers and colleagues.

 

Marie Miyashiro, APR, is the founder and president of Elucity Network, Inc., an empathy-based consulting and training firm based in Tucson, Arizona. Since 1985, Miyashiro has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, nonprofits, universities, and government agencies in the United States and Asia. Learn more at: www.EmpathyFactorAtWork.com

 

Keep learning these vital communication skills with these books and training resources:


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Advanced Praise

"Empathy has always been a core part of Marie Miyashiro. Now she has
transformed that valued human relations quality and skillfully turned it into a
powerful communications force for the business community. The Empathy Factor
will help thoughtful business people add substance and dimension to relationships
within the workforce—colleagues and customers. Breakthrough thinking from
cover to cover that will lead to more meaningful discourse and heightened
impact."

—JAMES B. HAYES, Former Publisher, FORTUNE Magazine

 

 

"The Empathy Factor provides great insight into almost diametrically opposed
business needs, personal and corporate. Not only does it explain why they exist,
but provides sound techniques to achieve synergy between the two—in turn,
making the employee and business more productive. This should be required
reading for any manager or supervisor."

BILL MOORE, Senior Vice President, Ipitek Corporation; Former Vice President and General Manager, Ortel Corporation; Former Corporate Marketing Manager, Hewlett-Packard

 

 

"Fabulous! With this book, Marie has made several very important contributions to the body of work concerning
effective leaders. She makes a clear connection between the vitality of organizations and the ability of its leaders to harness the vast potential energy generated by engaging human beings in the landscape of their feelings. Equally
important, she has taken the widely heralded virtue of empathy and made it very accessible with numerous
pragmatic strategies and tools. A must-read for any emerging leader!"

ULRICH NETTESHEIM, Managing Partner, Passages Consulting; Lecturer at Haas School of Business at University of California Berkeley; Founder, Umanity

 

 

"Marie Miyashiro’s comprehensive discussion of empathy in the workplace resonates with integrity. As I read
The Empathy Factor, the Integrated Clarity model of organizational needs came to life. I saw immediate applications
for anyone who works as a consultant to organizations, whether for-profit, nonprofit, or social enterprise. Marie
embodies the capacity to relate to ourselves with compassion as we create possibilities for alternate futures to
emerge."

CATHERINE W. BROOKER, M.A., Founder and Principal Consultant, Social Futures Group; Former Senior Organization Development Consultant at Sun Microsystems

 

 

"I came away from The Empathy Factor with new insights, new skills, and a much stronger appreciation of the
crucial importance of ‘connecting.’ And I agree: the payoffs of putting this value into practice are huge! Now, those
payoffs—capacity to innovate, resilience under pressure, and overall organizational effectiveness—are within much
easier reach, thanks to the wisdom provided in this wonderful book."

SAM KANER, Ph.D. Author, Consultant, Expert in Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration, Founder of the San Francisco-based International Consulting Firm, Community At Work

 

 

“The Empathy Factor offers cutting edge insight on the root causes of the challenges that today’s companies and
organizations face and how teams can achieve game-changing transformation to achieve ultimate buy-in, accountability,
morale, and teamwork. If you’re ready for real and sustainable change and what is sure to be the next big thing in the
business world-—needs-responsive organizations—you will want to read The Empathy Factor.”

—DIAN KILLIAN, Ph.D., Founder and Director, The Center for Collaborative Communication and
co-author, Connecting Across Differences

 

“The Empathy Factor is at once accessible and far-reaching in its implications. In page after page filled with real-life
examples and tips, Marie Miyashiro makes the case that empathy is entirely learnable, eminently practical, and core
and central to an organization’s capacity to achieve its mission. Far from a ‘soft’ distraction, the needs-awareness
allows everyone to zoom-in on what matters most, the source of focus and efficiency in achieving business and
personal goals. I recommend this book highly for anyone who wants to gain a handle on how to make organizations
adapt to the rapidly changing constraints of our times.”

—MIKI KASHTAN, Ph.D., Co-Founder, Lead Facilitator and Trainer, Bay Area Nonviolent Communication

 


“Organizations have needs just as people in organizations have needs—an amazingly refreshing perspective! Marie
has beautifully illustrated how the power of empathy can humanize the workplace and help transform our world.”

—SYLVIA HASKVITZ, M.A., R.D., CNVC Certified Trainer, Communication Consultant and author,
Eat by Choice, Not by Habit