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Coach AK: Empathy is a Must-Have For Building Successful Business Relationships



A recent multi-industry survey of U.S. employees by the nonprofit Catalyst found empathy to be “an important driver of employee outcomes such as innovation, engagement, and inclusion — especially in times of crisis.”
AK Ikwuakor, or Coach AK,” a performance and executive coach and former world-ranked track and field athlete, says empathy isnt just a buzzword, its “a must-have trait for building successful business relationships.”
“Empathy is a powerful tool for building relationships and creating a positive work environment,” Ikwuakor said. “In fact, without empathy, relationships can quickly become transactional and devoid of real connection.”
But just “checking a box or going through the motions won’t cut it,” he said.
“Empathy must be genuine and deeply felt to have a positive impact on those around us. It’s not something you can turn on and off when you go into the office; it’s a skill that needs practice both inside and outside the workplace,” Ikwuakor said.
But in the workplace, like other areas of life, empathy is a two-way street, he said.
“It’s important to remember that empathy goes both ways — leaders are not exempt from the need for compassion and understanding,” Ikwuakor said.
“We often focus too much on leaders’ titles and forget that they are human, just like the rest of us. They face the same challenges of navigating family dynamics, keeping the business competitive, and finding time to take care of their own health and well-being.”
Leaders and employees who recognize the shared humanity of everyone in the workplace can cultivate a culture of mutual empathy and support,” Ikwuakor said.
“Empathy cannot be faked or treated as a checkbox on a to-do list. True empathy requires authenticity and genuine care for others,” Ikwuakor said. “Without these key elements, attempts to demonstrate empathy can fall flat and even do more harm than good.”
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