How to improve empathy in the workplace

Why is improving empathy in the workplace important? 

Most people want to work in caring workplaces where they feel accepted and as a valued member of the team.   Empathy – helps us connect to one another and is one way to help encourage that feeling of connectedness we all desire and that helps work teams collaborate more effectively.

How do you effectively improve empathy throughout your workplace? 

One way is to make space and time for people to bring their whole selves and share their joys and sorrows as a team. This takes an amazing amount of trust.  This is why it’s probably better to start by having conversations about dignity and compassion.  What does it mean to treat colleagues with dignity and compassion?  What does it mean to treat customers with dignity and compassion?  Once a dignity and compassion mindset has taken root – you will find that levels of empathy have naturally increased as you are making caring – a regular part of the workplace conversation and expectations.  Empathy should grow naturally once the conditions have been set for it.

What steps do you take to help employees improve empathy if it doesn't come naturally to them?

You don’t. Part of having empathy is understanding that everyone is wired differently. And that’s ok. It is wrong to try and make a fish climb a tree. If empathy doesn’t come naturally to someone – trying to force them to be empathetic – is rather cruel. All an employer can and should do – is create the conditions in which ethical and caring behavior can grow. Those that want that level of motivation in their lives – with take that on. Those who don’t want that or are not naturally inclined won’t. But an empathetic workplace makes equal space for everyone and doesn’t shame people for people for not being exactly like everyone else. Which is why – focusing on dignity and compassion – will get your further than an emphasis on compassion.

I teach humanistic management and am the author of the new book – Applied Humanism: How to create more ethical and effective businesses.

You can check out my online courses or hire me to do a training for your staff here -

And learn about my new book here:

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