Management Tip of the Day: When others fail, just empathize

Fri May 13, 2011 11:00am EDT
 
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BOSTON (Reuters Life!) - The empathetic response to failure is not only the most compassionate, it's also the most productive because of they way it communicates trust, says Harvard Business Review.

The Management Tip of the Day offers quick, practical management tips and ideas from Harvard Business Review and HBR.org (http:\\www.hbr.org). Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by Reuters.

"When people fail at work, your instinct may be to go into problem-solving mode. You search out reasons for the failure, try to figure out how to avoid it in the future, and draw out the lessons to be learned.

But when people who have failed are in the depths of despair, they need empathy more than your rationalizations and encouragements about the future. A concerned response is not only compassionate but productive. Empathy communicates trust, and people perform best when they feel trusted.

Next time one of your people falls short, listen. Don't interrupt, don't offer advice, don't say that it will be all right. Just reflect back what you hear them say. There will be time to solve the problem later."

-Today's management tip was adapted from "The Right Way to Respond to Failure" by Peter Bregman.

 
<p>Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, November 13, 2008. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>