When we talk about the qualities we want in people, empathy is a big one. If you can empathize with people, then you can do a good job. If you have no ability to empathize, then it’s difficult to give people feedback, and it’s difficult to help people improve. Everything becomes harder.” Says Stewart Butterfield, the founder of Slack.

In an interview with The New York Times, Butterfield discussed the importance of empathy in the workplace and how that can lead to the elimination of unnecessary meetings. 

One way that empathy manifests itself is courtesy. Respecting people’s time is important. Don’t let your colleagues down; if you say you’re going to do something, do it. A lot of the standard traits that you would look for in any kind of organization come down to courteousness. It’s not just about having a veneer of politeness, but actually trying to anticipate someone else’s needs and meeting them in advance.” Butterfield says. 

Being courteous and aware of your colleague’s workload or schedule can demonstrate respect and will contribute to a thriving workplace culture, in hopes that they will reciprocate it in the future. One way to show this is by eliminating extraneous routine meetings. 

We have all been in those meetings—the meetings that interrupt your (productive) workday that turn out to be seemingly unproductive.

At Slack, the company has been canceling most of their meetings they have found to be extraneous. Being deliberate and courteous with people’s time by eliminating excessive meetings improves workplace culture and productivity.

One of our values is that you should be looking out for each other. Everyone should try to make the lives of everyone else who works here a little bit simpler. So if you’re going to call a meeting, you’re responsible for it, and you have to be clear what you want out of it. Have a synopsis and present well.” Butterfield says. 

Published in Coworking Blog