How You Can Build Empathy in the Workplace

A manager or leader should have the ability to bring his or her team together and foster a mutual understanding between its members. To make this possible, he or she must possess the five key elements of emotional awareness: self-awareness, motivation, social skills, self-regulation, and empathy. These are important skills that help build and maintain a healthy culture in the workplace. This time, we’ll be talking about the last element, empathy, and how it directly impacts different workplace aspects like employee productivity and engagement.

What Is Empathy

Empathy, simply put, is the ability to understand people’s emotions and see things from their point of view. However, being empathetic is more than just understanding how people feel. It also involves the actions you take in response to the concerns that accompany these emotions. A leader who shows empathy towards their team encourages employees to be their full, authentic, and productive selves at work. A study by Businessolver even states that 76% of employees believe empathy is the key to greater productivity.

Building an Empathetic Workplace

Don’t just listen; understand

Listening is easy to do, but listening actively requires a bit more effort. Active listening is an effective way to make people feel like their opinions matter. Through active listening, you’re making an effort to understand their point of view better. It’s important to pay attention to body language and emotional cues, which can tell you how they feel about a particular topic. You don’t necessarily have to agree with what they’re saying, but considering other angles can prove useful in the long run.

Follow the golden rule

As cliché as it may be, the golden rule is still one of the best rules to follow: treat others the way you want to be treated. You can never go wrong with being kind, especially to your employees. If you treat your co-workers kindly, they’ll do the same, and you’ll find yourself building healthy work relations with them. Of course, this doesn’t mean to say that you should let everything slide. It’s important to find a balance between kindness and maintaining a proper work ethic.


Put yourself in their shoes

In the workplace, it’s best not to criticize right away and keep an open mind. We often don’t realize how far removed we are from people in other departments or office positions, so we’re quick to judge. Different kinds of stressful situations can build up and cause us to show a side of ourselves that isn’t always pleasant. If you see someone struggling or acting out, put yourself in their shoes and remember that we’ve all been there.

It’s also important to consider that your co-workers might be experiencing burnout. A study by Deloitte shows that 77% of employees experience burnout which can cause negative effects on work quality and even personal relationships.

Don’t let your biases win

We may not realize it, but our preconditioned notions and biases affect how we communicate with others and react to certain situations. It can even negatively impact our work as biases can affect our judgment and cause problems in decision-making. There are different kinds of cognitive biases that can affect our decision-making, such as confirmation bias, the misinformation effect, and the halo effect, among others. For instance, if two of your co-workers were experiencing the same situation, you might react one way to one person and another way to the other person.

It’s important to remember that in the workplace, you should consider co-workers on the same length and leave behind and personal opinions and feelings aside. Stay objective, keep an eye on your biases, and allow yourself to see things from a different perspective.

Attend a workshop

If all else fails and you need a kick start to build a better and more empathetic environment in your workplace, consider taking seminars in psychology that can help you understand the psychology behind empathy and how it affects you and the people around you. If you want to succeed and make your way up that corporate ladder, this might be the key to helping you become a more effective, engaging, and empathetic leader that your co-workers will enjoy working with.

Empathy is the key to a successful leader and a successful team. The steps to creating a more empathetic workplace are easier said than done, but with a little effort, anything is possible. If you listen actively, consider the feelings of others, make objective decisions, and put in the effort to become more empathetic towards your co-workers, you’ll become an effective leader or manager in no time.

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