Thanksgiving is that special day when family and friends join together and celebrate the past year. Often times, however, even the moments we spend together can turn out to be stressful or overwhelming. I'm not just referring to the pains of overcooking the turkey or the headaches of absurd travel delays. In this case, my concerns are mostly with the interactions we have at the table.
Not to be confused with sympathy, empathy—as defined by Psychology Today—is "the experience of understanding another person's condition from their perspective." Said another way, it's the ability to relate with someone else through their feelings rather than by their words or actions. Simply put, you feel like they do.
But when empathy isn't a part of your communication equation, those that you interact with on a daily basis can start to shut down or feel isolated. And in the workplace, teamwork can quickly turn into "me-work". Ultimately, not employing empathy in your communications can cause your personal and professional relationships to suffer greatly.
For a moment, think back to this familiar instance of feeling out of the loop:
You're meeting a friend for coffee, and you find yourself waiting (...and waiting) for them to arrive. After reaching out via text, you realize you didn’t receive their note—they’d wanted to reschedule.
Despite being friends, this situation can cause a little awkwardness and more than a fair share of frustration. And it all came as a result of poor communication.