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Building empathy: Progress at the work place

Ascending from sympathizing to listening and empathizing

A research study by CCL to verify the influence of empathy in the workplace and its effect on a manager's performance had a not very shocking revelation.

Empathy in the workplace is positively related to job performance.

Not a huge surprise right? Seems pretty obvious? Of course, a manager who was empathetic towards his employees was seen as better performing. Yet, despite knowing its importance, it is often difficult to be empathetic. While some empathy comes naturally, it simply isn't an organic response for many.

The importance of empathy, however, is doubly so in times where the Covid-19 has redefined workplace expectations and where we do our business. How do you become more sensitive and empathetic to your employees when you aren't seeing them on a regular basis? How do you prevent the age-old malady, "Out of sight and out of mind."

Key areas of empathy in the workplace

CCL notes four key reporting areas which are important from the standpoint of empathy:

1. Watch for signs of overwork.

2. Show interest in the needs, hopes, needs, and dreams of people

3. Demonstrate a willingness to help employees with personal problems.

4. Show compassion appropriately.

You can read more about CCL's research here.

Learning empathy

Good news? Empathy can be emulated and learned and there are tools and techniques which can assist on the same. Some key tips to look out for are:

1. Be a good listener and pay your full attention

2. Talk about the importance of empathy with people in your team and around you.

3. Learn to visualize yourself in that person's position.

4. Do not make assumptions about someone's condition, it is always best to ask and clarify.


Empathy is a strong tool that is on a subconscious level everyone knows as being important and yet there may be lapses when it comes to exercising it. As with every tool & technique it is important to practice it regularly in a myriad of situations to slowly be more empathetic naturally.

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