When we talk about the world, we talk about economy. Be it a political ideology or any religion they all focus on betterment of humankind. Only the proposed paths and programs differ from each other but the essence is the same i.e. betterment of every mankind. Such betterment lies more on economy. When we talk economy we consider industry and commerce as its backbone. Everything is commercialized, whether it is a cottage product, a man's idea and capacity, a state, a nation, nature's beauty and minerals. Anything you name it it's been commercialized, branded and sold in the world market. Those who can not penetrate world market are not going to survive in the long run. Specialization, liberalization and globalization have become inevitable for every country and person. With the industry and commerce being liberalized and globalized, lots of advancements in the technology has been witnessed in the recent years. Men have been replaced by machines day by day. People, mistakenly, started giving more value and invest more money and time into machines than in human being. While doing this, we tend to forget the fact that such wonderful and miraculous machines and inventions are the outcome of human brain. But still it is a bitter fact that through such scientific research, invention and findings only a small part of the whole thing has been tested and confirmed. The science has never been complete. It's an ongoing process and everything comes with exceptions, conditions and associated risks. The point is that, human mind can do wonder and can do still better when worked in a team of homogenous or heterogeneous members as the case may be. Be it at home, business, state, or anything else human side is very important. We work with human being who expects to be well understood and treated like we do from the other end. We do have, basically two kinds of intelligence, rational and emotional. To better run a machine or any non human assets we need to be very good at rational (intellectual) intelligence at least as to that very kind of work and skill. On the other hand dealing with human assets demands a reasonable amount of emotional intelligence. When we say managing people, we mean both managing the self and also other people around us. For that we need to be good at emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence has it's two sides: positive and negative. Empathy is one of the powerful ingredients of positive emotion. The opposite of empathy is apathy.
Empathy is also loosely understood as sympathy by most of the people which is purely a misunderstanding since they are different concepts in themselves. Empathy is a capacity of a person to understand uniqueness of another person and the strength, weakness and peculiar situation he/she is living with, with a due appreciation of the same and responding positively considering the same creating comfort without hurting him/her ultimately resulting in to lasting relation. Empathy is different from sympathy in a sense that sympathy is a general (standard) response to a particular type of situation many people are thought to have lived with, where as empathy is a specialized, tailor made response designed to a person in that typical situation which might vary person to person and also time to time even in the same situation. In a layman's simple to understand example sympathy can be compared to a machine made branded biscuit which are manufactured in hundreds and thousands of pieces with the same name and ingredients, all of them are exactly the same, where as empathy can be compared with a made to order dish which vary in every dish and every order supplied.
In business organizations we make two kinds of communication and deal with two types of people namely internal and external. In a broader term outside consultants, suppliers, buyers, government and regulating authorities, other agencies in frequent touch, they all can be called as associates and partners. But in general and conservative terms they may be treated as external parties and the employees and other members are called internal ones. When we communicate and deal with them we should try to be empathetic, not apathetic. Empathy creates positive vibration between people and helps perform better. Being empathetic does not mean forgiving blunders, letting people cheat you, not making them abide by organizations' rules, letting people take undue advantage from you, disregarding institutional discipline and values, not performing the job as per TOR or description, or anything of that sort. It's rather appreciating a person’s peculiar condition and the environment under which he/she is acting, performing, communicating or sometimes committing mistakes while doing so. It's also about co-operating when some one performs not as per our expectations or organization rules and values. Instead of throwing a complaint or a negative remark we should rather ask for the explanation, what is the reason behind it and also if there is anything we could do to avoid that. Empathy can be applied by buyer in a situation when supplier is delivering at a different time, different quantity or quality goods, at a different price than promised. It may be applied by a supplier when a buyer cannot make payment as scheduled. It is also relevant in a situation where tax authorities want to check your books of accounts or quality control authorities want to check your processing plants or end products. It may work when a subordinate is not performing on time, not following seniors instruction and a senior is not giving proper instruction, recognition for work, leave etc to a junior.
We need to be empathic, have, show and also practice empathy in our daily life and naturally in business and other organizations. Empathy is part of our genetic endowment and also a gift of nature which can be polished by further learning and practices. Those whom we show empathy or be empathic with should also to feel that you have well understood that person’s problem or opinion in a peculiar condition. Basically, the common area we can apply empathy is communication. While listening to other people we can try to be empathic. When we speak without empathy we send words but when we speak with empathy we send our feelings and true meaning of the words which is very important in every communication, more importantly, in business correspondence. This can be done by expressing through body language, selecting conducive and sweet words considering the context and purpose of communication, appreciating other side's constraints, limitations and trying to offer responses at their interest to the extent possible. Empathic behavior includes all good ones like honesty, humility, acceptance, tolerance, gratitude, faith, hope, forgiveness etc. All these behaviors can be learned from various sources. In the beginning, when we bring empathy in our life and work, it sounds like it will benefit the other side. But, in fact, it will, in the long run, pay the one who practices empathy. We need to bring it into action. Empathy also has its dark side. When we try to be empathic it doesn't mean we should not take people negative, rather we need to be critical when situation demands. And, prepare our self to save us from the danger. Empathy helps us also to sense the danger and we can then save ourselves from it. Some people who are manipulative, deceptive and potentially destructive may also use empathy against us. We have to be careful. However, our safety measures should also be empathic. This is how empathy helps us live and work better both in bright and also at dark times.