Understanding Empathy: Workshop Teaches Value of Understanding Emotions in Business
Maybe business can be personal after all.
Jessica Weatherford of Marble Arch hosted the workshop “Emotional Intelligence: Your Personal Competitive Advantage” at a School of Economics and Business Administration’s professional development workshop this month. During the morning-long seminar students and alumni learned how to better manage their emotions in the workplace and how to capitalize on increasing their professional self-awareness and empathy.
“The first rule,” said Weatherford to an attentive crowd of participants, “is to know thyself.”
Indeed becoming more aware of your mental state and the stimuli that affect it is at the core of utilizing emotional intelligence and was central to Weatherford’s discussion. If people become more aware and in control of their emotional states, it will be easier for them to express their emotions and react to interpersonal relationships with empathy and a level head, explained Weatherford.
While the advantages of having greater mental clarity in the business world are obvious, Weatherford’s seminar outlined specific, step-by-step processes to help professionals achieve this lucidity. Among these practices are the “Pivot Process”—a four-step mental exercise that can prevent workplace conflict before it starts and defuse it once it does—and the “Transformational Conversation”—an eight-step guide to addressing a problematic topic in a healthy, respectful way. Both techniques begin with an individual recognizing an emotional state before following a course of action that involves active questioning until a fresh perspective is ultimately achieved.
Weatherford also spoke extensively on the relationship between emotional intelligence and the success of managers and business leaders.
“Empathy is especially important in the modern workplace," said Weatherford. "As global business continues to grow and we shift to a service economy, being able to understand what the person on the other side of the table is thinking and feeling is incredibly valuable.”
Chris Hoover of the Professional MBA Program said that the workshop was going to have an impact his relationship with his boss in the future.
“[This presentation] made me look introspectively at how I make my decisions and how people behave around me,” said Hoover. “For the longest time my boss was very blunt and direct. Things have been changing though. I think opening that line of conversation will be really positive.”
Hoover attended the workshop with his wife, Lisa, who also walked away impressed. “I think this presentation really articulated how to communicate better. I think we’re at a point in our culture where we’re discouraged to show our emotions and that has affected the way we deal with them in the workplace. I think knowing how to manage my emotions will give me a huge advantage going forward,” she said.
The School of Economics and Business Administration offers professional development workshops once a quarter. For future dates and topics, visit the Professional Development Program page.