Professional Development Tools & Skills

The Top Skill You’ll Need to Grow Your Career

Written by Kate Lopaze

When you think of leaders, “empathy” might not be the word that comes to mind first. Yet many companies find that developing a more intuitive connection with their employees and customers is improving their bottom lines. Companies that respond to needs (rather than demographics alone) are able to focus on providing a service, rather than just a product. It’s not about the touchy-feely notions of empathy that we often see, but rather perceptiveness.

This is just as relevant within a company’s walls. Employees who show emotional intelligence and empathy are often promoted and recognized because they deliver what the company (or customers) want. These are life skills that can be fine-tuned into helpful business skills.

Here’s how to apply a more empathetic bent to your career growth.

Anticipate workplace needs

This doesn’t mean you should fetch coffee for your boss. But you should look at your projects and goals—what are they supposed to achieve? What service do they provide to your boss, your team, your company?

Ask for feedback

Ask your manager for a progress report of sorts, or set up a time to talk about your progress on a particular goal. Use your annual performance review to ask questions, and go in-depth on what you’re doing well and what you can change for the coming year. Focus on your achievements, and emphasize how those help your company’s bottom line.

Use customer service as a guide

Practice by looking around at various companies, both inside and outside of your industry. What do they provide to the public? If it’s a product, what niche does that product fill? What is the company’s relationship to its customers, and what do customers expect?

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.