I recently read a great blog that predicted that the #1 in-demand job skill in 2020 will be empathy. Yes, empathy, and, I know, it was hard for me to swallow at first, too. But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense, given the common communication defaults within most organizations. Simply defined, empathy is the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another. Ask yourself how easily you recognize emotions via an email or chat conversation and, when you try, think about the usual outcome. I think you would agree that taking an email or chat other than at face value is almost always dismal.
Nothing can ever substitute for ongoing two-way dialogue between a manager and employee. Of course, managers need to listen first; but also talk with their mouths and not with their fingers on a keyboard or thumbs on a smartphone. Employees need to talk to one another, as well, to facilitate collaboration and build community. It is through these non-technology driven exchanges that trust is fostered and caring is exhibited.
So the next time you’re tempted to fire off a text or open that chat window, think again. Instead I would challenge you to do something that might be considered novel, and that is get up, walk the three cubicles over, and talk. You likely will be surprised how exercising this simple skill we learned in our first year of existence will boost engagement.