Empathy at Work: The Power of Connecting with Others

When we root our actions and our reactions in empathy, something magical happens.

Chris Fernandez

Managing Consultant

We all have our own, everyday superpower. It could be remembering the name of everyone you meet; knowing where to go without a map; or choosing a perfectly ripe avocado every single time. My superpower is connecting with others.

I’m not just talking about chatting with the barista during the morning coffee run or getting a smile out of a TSA agent (though those moments are nice too). I’m talking about moments of genuine human connection—the kinds of connections that can transform a relationship.

Acting (and Reacting) with Empathy

When we root our actions and our reactions in empathy, something magical happens. Here’s an example: a client once reached out to me in a panic, sheepishly admitting that she had dropped a bottle of water onto her laptop. She felt stupid and was embarrassed to be asking for my help. I knew why she was flustered; who wouldn’t be? She was worried that I would be judgmental or shame her for being careless.

Sensing her distress, I instead told her it was just a laptop and that the most important thing was that she was safe. I then launched into a story about my first day working at the Apple Store. Being hired at Apple was my first interview experience, and I had made it through six grueling rounds before getting the offer. I was eager to be there and wanted to make a great impression.

That morning, before work, I treated myself to a large iced coffee with caramel to celebrate my first day. And wouldn’t you know it: moments after walking in the door at my brand-new job, I managed to spill the entire sugary, milky, icy thing on a display table, destroying two iPads and two iPhones in the process.

Shared Experiences Create a Sense of Belonging

When I shared this story with the client, you could feel her anxiety dissipate. Her energy shifted, and the tone of the conversation shifted. Instead of the stereotype of a troubled user speaking with a finger-wagging technician, it became a safe zone. We were just two people bonding over an embarrassing moment—and a shared background, as it turned out she’d also worked at an Apple store. We quickly arranged for a new laptop so she could get back up and running as soon as possible.

The most important thing for me is that my client walked away from the interaction feeling like she could approach me with any problem or issue in the future: without shame, without judgment, without worrying about asking a “dumb” question. I gained her trust and, in turn, Pliancy gained an advocate who encourages her colleagues to be proactive in reaching out to consultants.

From Transactional to Transformative

Whether at managed service providers or consultancies, many interactions in the IT industry feel strictly transactional. A ticket is opened, a problem is resolved, and a ticket is closed.

Pliancy, on the other hand, was built on the idea that good relationships are the strongest foundation for any partnership. When it comes to company culture, saying “people-first” means acknowledging that we are all people, first and foremost, before we are technologists, consultants, clients, or users.

Relating to others on an individual level is the keystone in our consulting philosophy. Being a great IT consultancy isn’t only about doing the right thing; it’s not only about investing in our people. It’s about doing all that and infusing humanity, warmth, and joy into the work we do every day.

Being Human Is Superhuman

Imagine if we were all robots, living exactly according to our programming. If we never let conversations wander, if we never pursued the unexpected, if we never made exceptions to the rules… the world would be a boring place.

There are times for strictness and precision, of course. And there are times for being human, too. We rely on one another for novelty, kinship, and all the unplanned moments that keep life interesting.

Life is what happens in between the moments of precision: it’s a water bottle emptying itself onto your computer. It’s someone telling you that it’s going to be okay. It’s knowing that no matter what else happens, you have someone you can go to for help. After all, helping others is what people with superpowers do.

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