40 ways for libraries to create even more empathy with their researchers

iStock_000011931148LargeIn a vastly dynamic changing digital research environment, it is critical to use empathy to gain a true understanding of our researchers. It also helps build further trust, appreciation and strong partnerships. This will in turn solidify opportunities for you, your team and your library.

I have brought together 40 pieces of wisdom from library colleagues, entrepreneurs, coaches and lessons of my own on how to gain even further empathy with your researchers or research administrators. It would be excellent if you would share yours below.

  1. Talk to those who need you the most
  2. Decide to empathise before you enter conversation. Make it a personal goal
  3. Strive to understand first and foremost before being understood
  4. Remember, it’s not about you and your success, it is about helping your researchers
  5. Create a safe environment and feeling of trust
  6. Take a few minutes beforehand to create a state of calm, receptive openness if you aren’t already in one
  7. Carefully consider the limited time you have and plan your time accordingly
  8. Take on an alert, open and engaged posture
  9. Look for similarities – be this on a personal or professional level – and share them in conversation
  10. Find a common goal
  11. Keep your message short and simple
  12. Place yourself in their shoes: Time is very limited so focus on what is important to them
  13. Having empathy for someone doesn’t involve sharing too many details: what would they want to know?
  14. Use stories to connect
  15. Use their language, and this includes no jargon
  16. Give your researchers time and space to talk
  17. React to the other’s personal space limits
  18. Listen, and keep listening to really understand
  19. Try not to interrupt however enthusiastic you might be
  20. Find out where the pain is
  21. Ask and ask focussed open questions
  22. Ask what your researcher is currently working on
  23. Ask what your researcher’s current priorities are
  24. Ask about your researcher’s current concerns related to the topic at hand
  25. Observe what you see in your partner in conversation: Look at the non-verbal communication: pace of breathing, facial tone and expressions, eye movements and other physical gestures
  26. Listen to the tone of voice, pitch and speed of your partner in conversation and mirror and pace it
  27. Mirror your partner: some of what they tell you and how they tell it
  28. Help get problems clear by summarising their concerns on the spot
  29. Use the word “You” when summarising what you hear rather than “I”
  30. When responding, repeat something your partner mentions that you can really connect to on an emotive or professional level
  31. Express empathy at the right time
  32. Have compassion for the other in misunderstandings, rebuffs and no’s
  33. Remain neutral, don’t allow personal biases to distract
  34. When responding, avoid trigger words such as “No”, “But”, “Why”, “Because” or “Sorry”
  35. Connect your partner to their peers and allies in conversation using testimonials where possible – and your champions
  36. Leave your own interpretations at the door. What is actually being said? Ask on if you are unsure
  37. Judging has no place
  38. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability
  39. Show your loyalty
  40. And last but not least, be grateful, and share it

What methods have worked for you? Please share your experiences in the box below.

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