Today SIYLI releases the sixth video in our SIY curriculum. If you haven’t seen the first five videos, we recommend you watch SIY 101, 102, 103.1, 103.2 and 103.3 now. We worked hard on the videos, guys, and they’re pretty incredible.

The topic of SIY 103.4 is empathy. This skill is often discounted in businesses as not being essential, but at SIYLI we understand that a good sense of empathy can boost your company’s productivity and make you a more respected leader.

Sir, this trust exercise seems a bit extreme…

Let’s start with the obvious, empathy doesn’t mean that you need to cry every time one of your employees gets a paper cut (though feel free to cry if you get a paper cut — those things hurt!). Real empathy is understanding the emotions of someone else so that you may better comprehend the person.

So what does recognizing the emotions of others mean in the office. First of all, you’ll find a less mean graffiti about the mean boss on the bathroom walls. The real benefit of empathy is that it helps foster mutual respect between you and your employees.

If your employees sense that you understand their feelings and want what’s best for them and the company, they will start to trust you as a leader and decision maker. This means when you have to make a decision that they don’t like (ie: asking everyone to work late on a project or cutting back on bonus checks), they will understand that you are acting in their best interest as well as yours.

Empathy can also boost your employees’ productivity in unexpected ways. When you take the time to recognize employees and their work, it can actually boost their productivity. This doesn’t mean you can just say “Good Job!” and expect quarterly numbers to double. But if you take the time to speak to someone authentically, saying “You’ve done a wonderful job. I can tell you put a lot of thought into this proposal”. Studies have found that by praising the work process of employees, instead of praising fixed traits (like how smart they are), you can actually motivate people to perform better.

Taking the time to understand your employees and empathize with them is an essential tool for the emotionally intelligent leader. A few mindful practices will keep your employees happy and productive, even during tough times.

SIYLI Suggestion: This week, watch SIY 103.4 and share what you’ve learned.