What is empathy and how important is it in the workplace?

What is empathy and how important is it in the workplace?

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Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the other's shoes. Enter for a few minutes into the universe of others, seeking to understand their reality and individual difficulties. And without judgments. But how important is that at work?

In the current pandemic context, this attribute has been increasingly discussed by the media. In times of economic crisis and social isolation, many companies have sought a new look for employees. And this is the way: to acquire a more human look so that the work environment is a place of cooperation and learning.

Want to understand the impacts of empathy on the workplace? In this post, we will show you tips on how to encourage this attribute in your company! Check out!

What is empathy?

Empathy is, first of all, emotional understanding. Seeing and accepting that a given situation may be nothing for you, but it can be a great difficulty for someone else!

It is not to judge or belittle the other's pain based on your personal experiences.

Although much discussed recently, not everyone is really aware of what empathy is. Many think it is the same as sympathy or compassion, but they are totally different concepts.

Sympathy, for example, is a feeling of affinity. Compassion is a feeling that arouses the desire to help others, but motivated by pity.

THE empathy it overcomes all this, because in addition to the desire to help others, it also expands your perspectives!

How does this expansion happen? You start to see the other's reality with the other's eyes, and not with yours. You can listen more carefully to other people. Begins to develop the interpretation and understanding of the emotions of others.

But after all, how to use empathy in practice?

Whenever you try to truly understand someone's situation, empathy is necessary. When you are arguing with a person with no results, empathy will be helpful in understanding their position and resolving the impasse. If you have trouble connecting with someone, think about empathy.

Therefore, whether to manage your emotions or someone close to you, exercising empathy is critical.

Much is said about the “New normal”, which would be the inevitable transformations resulting from the pandemic. But is it the new normal to continue to deal with people indifferently?

Now is a good time for you to ask yourself: Do your company's leaders and managers be empathetic towards employees? And does your organizational culture promote values ​​such as empathy?

How to develop this capacity?

Being empathetic is not an innate issue, that is, of birth, but of development throughout life. It may be that you have lived with people who are not empathetic, so this ability has not become an important value for you.

However, like any competency, empathy can be improved!


  1. Whenever you want to judge a person, stop and think. And if you were in her situation, would you really do it differently? Start showing solutions, not critical.
  2. You don't have to agree with everything the other says, but you need to know listening to and respecting positions different from yours.
  3. The more you step out of your comfort zone, the more enriching experiences you will experience. Try to experience for a moment the reality of the other.
  4. Comparing situations or pain hardly helps a person to get out of a problem. Each person has their own experiences and views about the world. That's why, avoid diminishing your colleague's situation.

Imagine that your co-worker is facing several personal problems due to the pandemic, such as debt, hospitalized relatives and fights at home. And he can no longer work without that look of sadness.

A person without empathy could simply judge that person as “someone who is just discouraged and negative”.

However, it is often just a bad phase, when the person does not find a solution or emotional support to deal with your issues.

In this situation, offering some help or simply having an empathic conversation could make a difference. Your co-worker would feel less lonely or guilty about these feelings!

The work environment can sometimes be a competitive and unforgiving place, where very high goals, gossip and mental wear predominate. Meantime, you can do different.

Leaders and managers have a fundamental role in creating a more pleasant, friendly and healthy place to work. It's not just the employees' responsibility!

What are the benefits of this attribute for companies?

You have already noticed the importance of empathy in everyday life. But does it really impact companies positively? No doubt!

According to research by Businesssolver in 2017, about 77% of workers would be willing to work more hours if the company were more empathetic. Already 80% of “millennial generation” workers said they would quit their current jobs if the new office was more empathetic.

And Brazil, is it an empathic country?

Not so much!

According study released by the Michigan State University in 2016, Brazil ranked 51st in the ranking of the most empathic countries. 63 nations were evaluated, with the best positioned countries being Canada and the United States.

This means that empathy is not yet a highly valued ability in our country. And you don't even have to enter the corporate environment to notice this reality. We observe attitudes and comments that are not empathetic in family situations, media and social networks.

Knowing this, you can start adopting new strategies. Empathy is key to creating deeper and more reciprocal relationships. For your company, it will be beneficial because:

THE empathy it is much more than a competency, but a fundamental value for any community. An essential feature for organizations that seek healthy growth and more engaged professionals.

In the next topic, you'll check out some tips to make your company more empathic!

How can organizations become more empathic?

As we have seen, applied empathy at work is able to improve the organization's climate. This directly impacts the productivity and the results of any business.

But what is the initial step to make it all natural? Making empathy a essential value in your organizational culture!

Check out some tips:

  1. You can start encouraging an environment in which life experiences are shared, and not just by the most outgoing employees. Also be an example. Show curiosity and interest in the lives of others. Everyone has something to learn and something to teach!
  2. Another point is understand that there are factors beyond our control, like diseases, rain, traffic, and now the pandemic. Therefore, it is normal for people to be more anxious and stressed than normal. So, think of a strategy for employees to vent or face the day to day with more lightness.
  3. If possible, offer psychological help to guide employees with emotional difficulties. This prevents personal problems from affecting performance at work and even relationships with colleagues.
  4. Don't create an environment that seeks to blame, but that seeks solutions. When the organization's climate is based on judgment and competitiveness, there is no room for doubts or errors. As a result, people tend to shut themselves up and adopt accusatory behaviors. Be a welcoming company, which opens space for dialogue and suggestions.
  5. Search and encourage self-knowledge. Most of the time, we are judged by factors such as posture, gestures, tone of voice and communication in general. THE body language it's just as important as words. However, when both conflict, you may end up transmitting a negative image (even if it doesn't correspond to reality). If you want to lead with empathy, have an open and inviting tone of voice and posture.

Empathy is of great importance in the work environment, as it makes the corporate environment less burdensome and more cooperative. In times of a pandemic, this ability has been increasingly important for the good management of labor relations!

Empathy is definitely an ally for your business. With it, you become better able to manage teams, market products / services and lead employees around healthy growth.

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