An empathetic workplace
This information aims to assist leaders and managers to establish an empathetic work culture and helps to understand why an empathetic work culture is good for business
This information aims to assist leaders and managers to establish an empathetic work culture by promoting and cultivating empathy in the workplace. It will also help leaders and managers to understand why an empathetic work culture is good for business.
What is empathy?
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It’s understanding how others feel and being compassionate towards them. Neuroscientists believe empathy is two parts of the brain working together:
A common misperception is that empathy and sympathy are the same thing – they are not. Let’s look at how they are different.
Sympathy involves understanding a situation from your own perspective, often accompanied by a wish for them to be happier or better off. Empathy involves putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and understanding WHY they may have these particular feelings.
Many workplaces have reported experiencing increased levels of stress and burnout due to the COVID -19 pandemic. A 2020 Global Qualtrics survey comprised of 2,000 employees found that when workers perceived their managers to be more empathetic, they reported greater levels of mental health. Taking time to empathise with a person who is upset, irritable, angry, or emotionally exhausted helps build connection and trust; two critical factors in managing difficult conversations well. Taking an empathic approach enables your staff to experience you as a genuine person, someone who seeks to understand their feelings or situation and who will use that understanding to help them achieve the best outcome.
Being empathic builds resilience in the workplace and contributes to positive outcomes at work. Empathy assists in managing difficult conversations by:
Understanding other people’s emotions is an important skill in the workplace. It can enable us to resolve conflicts, to build more productive teams, and to improve our relationships with co-workers, clients, and customers. But, while most of us are confident about learning new technical skills, we may feel ill-equipped to develop our interpersonal skills and many people are self-conscious about discussing their own feelings, never mind anyone else’s.
Tips for increasing empathy skills
Practise and develop empathy by:
Examples of how to respond:
Listening to others’ stories can impact us, so it’s important to look after our own wellbeing. It’s important to make sure you debrief after difficult interactions and also that you operate within your boundaries at work by following organisation policy and procedures and Codes of Conduct. One of the risks of caring is compassion fatigue or burnout so don’t forget to look after yourself and practise self-care by: