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5 Essential Ways to Encourage Empathy in the Workplace

When you look at the office where you work; you may think that there is no way that empathy could become a common practice. Thankfully, empathy is not a skill that we are either born with or not. But, empathy can be learned and encouraged. Here are five ways that your company can encourage empathy in the workplace!

Expand Comfort Zones

One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with Empathy is to step outside of your comfort zone. Take the time to learn something new or go somewhere you’ve never been before. Doing so will help you experience a dependency on others. Additionally, being in a situation where you don’t know how to do something can lead to feeling helpless or lost. Instead of getting lost in these feelings, allow them to humble you. Remember these feelings the next time you may be frustrated with a new hire who “just doesn’t get it.” Instead of getting frustrated, offer your time or friendship to help them become acclimated.

two people holding coffee cups and looking into the distance. Possibly listening with empathy.

Meet New People

Another way that empathy can be encouraged and cultivated in the workplace is through meeting new people. Make a list of the people you have not met in your office. From that list, invite people out to lunch or coffee and become acquainted. This can open the door for new friendships, networking opportunities, and encouraging empathy! Hearing someone else’s story can help you understand why they may do or say certain things. From that, you can learn to see things from their point of view within the workplace. Additionally, meeting new people can help open your eyes to experiences you may not have faced or may not have ever considered.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

When you have become familiar with the people you work with, it becomes easier to put yourself in their shoes. This can be important when delegating tasks and completing projects. Putting yourself in others’ shoes goes beyond knowing their personal preferences about things and what they like or dislike. Intentionally placing yourself in someone else’s situation means trying your hardest to understand the role social identity plays in their life. This means taking into account their personal experiences and unique perspectives.

With the importance of social responsibility on the rise, many customers and employees pay attention to the social responsibilities in which organizations invest. This means that customers and employees also pay attention to the social causes a company does not support, which can be equally as important to some people. These situations are examples of why empathy is a crucial skill to have. Just because you may not have personally experienced an injustice that a social cause stands for doesn’t mean it isn’t essential. Empathy can help you open your eyes to see that.

Two people sitting and looking at a notebook, possibly listening with empathy

Listen and Observe

One way that empathy can be encouraged in the workplace is through listening. Now, some of you may be thinking that all you do at work is listen. Listening in meetings, listening to what emails are explaining, and listening to a general conversation are all things that you may do in an average workday. However, with empathy, the simple task of listening becomes slightly more complex.

When an individual intends to listen with empathy, that person should be present and observant of what is being said. This means observing nonverbal cues, listening to how things are spoken, and putting yourself in the other person’s shoes to figure out why they are saying what they are saying. This may sound complex, but the more you practice, the easier it will be to listen empathically in every aspect of life. To learn how to incorporate empathy into your listening habits, utilize the Bigger Brains course, Empathy, The Key to Active Listening.

Continue to Learn

A final way to incorporate empathy into everyday business practices is to continue learning and growing. As your business or team grows, hiring employees from other countries or moving business practices to new areas might make sense. Take these new steps eagerly, and bring the desire to learn about new employees. Different countries may have different cultural standards. Use your newfound empathic listening skills to understand how these standards may affect your business or team functionality.

Empathetic listening is a skill that will benefit you both in your career and personal life. Learning to grow and shape these skills can help you become a more understanding person and live a mindful life.

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