Empathy is an important aspect of relationship building. One’s ability to recognize, understand, and appreciate the way others feel is a core emotional intelligence skill. Empathy sits at the heart of all effective relationships. When you know a colleague at a personal level you will better understand what impacts their emotions and be in a better position to see situations from their perspective.
Take the time to connect with a colleague with whom you are less familiar on topics unrelated to work (children, sports, current events, etc.). When a situation surfaces that calls for empathy on your part, draw on the information you’ve learned to show your sensitivity to their needs (e.g., you must really be feeling stressed with two sick kids at home, is there anything I can do to help?). Not only will this create strong relationships and goodwill, it will increase the likelihood that you will get the empathy you need when the time comes.