Submitted by Gabrielle Kato
Over the last month my work group has transitioned from working in an office together to working remotely from our homes. Some of us have children and spouses at home with us, some have roommates, and some are living alone. While everyone is experiencing the same pandemic, we're all experiencing it in our own, often unique, ways. The same can be said about family members; while we're in the same home, socially distancing together, we are all experiencing and processing things differently.
Empathy is more important than ever right now. When talking my son or daughter out of a meltdown, I think about how they must be processing the situation. Maybe they were overstimulated from too much screen time, maybe they heard my husband and I arguing about our work schedules, or maybe they are just upset because we ran out of rainbow sprinkles for their ice cream.
Empathy matters as I manage my work team too. Most interactions with co-workers start off with a conversation about how they are doing, personally, getting through these hard times. When I can, I share how I can relate to their situations. (Working with an 8 year old to do online school work IS hard! The VPN is totally dropping me every few minutes too!) When they just need to vent, I listen. By showing empathy, I hope they understand that I truly care about them as well as the success of our team.
Sometimes these efforts don't feel like much. And other times I hope they're everything.