How sensitive are you to the feelings of others? Hard enough for most of us, but being hyper-busy makes it hard to notice anything unless it hits us in the face. If you are too busy or not naturally perceptive, what can you do to take account of the feelings of others? Why bother? Well, if you overlook people's feelings they assume that you are either insensitive or don't care about them, not a recipe for building or maintaining productive relationships.
Noticing People's Feelings
If you don't naturally notice how people feel, the best policy is to ask questions. Avoid closed questions like: "Is that OK with you?" This just invites a yes or no answer. Asking how someone feels may be equally fruitless if they are afraid to be open with you. If they are, they might say "Fine!" when they are seething inside.
Train people to give you feedback. If you ask for feedback regularly, people will get used to giving it to you. However, it is absolutely essential to reward them for being honest with you rather than punishing them. You may not want to punish them but if you argue or even show annoyance, you may be shutting them up for good.
The key is to say thanks for the feedback and apologize for making them feel that way or for giving them that impression.
People find it easier to give feedback if they are trained to offer both positives and negatives - what they liked about what you did and what they didn't like.
Train them to state both sides of the coin starting with positives. This makes it easier for both of you. Getting some positive feedback helps both of you realize that whatever you did wasn't all negative.
Focusing on the future also helps. Ask: "What would you like me to do differently in future?" A "scale" question can also be useful: "How to you feel about this on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is terrible and 10 is wonderful?"
Emotional intelligence is essential for building and maintaining productive relationships but, for many of us, we need some simple techniques that help us pay closer attention to how people feel.