7 Tips to Practise Showing Empathy at Work

Professionalism can sometimes be misconstrued as being able to blend in the workplace. It is often characterised by being formal and rational at all times. In the real sense of the word, being professional is more about your attitude and disposition at work than how you look. You can embody professionalism and, at the same time, show empathy at work.

Empathy is both an emotional and cognitive response. It describes your capacity to imagine what a person may be feeling and thinking based on their current circumstances. Showing empathy at work is being compassionate towards your peers by helping them succeed alongside you. It is an ability that is as necessary as professionalism because these qualities cultivate a healthy work culture and environment.

Professionalism and empathy are both teachable skills through coaching and practice. These character traits allow us to prevent and resolve conflicts, strengthening teamwork and productivity. Showing empathy at work is essential to having and maintaining valuable relationships with co-workers as much as our clients and customers.

In this article, we’ll focus on how you can practise showing empathy at work. We’ve listed down 7 tips on how you can give and accept empathy while being professional.

7 Tips to Give and Accept Empathy at Work

1. Set Expectations and Respect Boundaries

Empathy at work is nurturing a safe environment where people engage in healthy dialogue. It promotes a work culture where job expectations are met and individual boundaries are respected.

Showing empathy at work is the ability to express mutual trust and respect for each other’s well-being. Leaders must convey task objectives, and team members must be able to disclose when their boundaries are overstepped in one way or another. Protecting boundaries is a form of self-care in business that allows you to be mindful of your work capacity.

2. Foster Work-Life Balance

In line with respecting boundaries, showing empathy at work relates to fostering work-life balance. Leaders must be able to prevent and spot burnout before it happens by keeping track of their team’s workload. Team leaders can show empathy at work by assigning reasonable deadlines for tasks that factor in appropriate rest periods, and time off.

Work-life balance refers to the proper allocation of time and energy between one’s professional occupation and personal well-being. Empathy can be shown at work by making wellness programmes available to relieve mental, emotional, and physical stress. Empathy can also be given by incentivising good work or supporting certain hobbies that allow teams to reset and recover.

3. Personalise Work Delegation

Individuals are more likely to do their best when given the opportunity to excel. Empathetic leaders take the time to know what motivates their teams to be able to delegate tasks effectively. Through empathy, tasks are assigned according to each team member’s skillset and work capacity.

Showing empathy at work is being able to personalise work delegation in a way that team members complement each other’s strengths as well as areas for improvement. Individuals feel more confident doing what they’re good at. They are also inclined to improve and contribute to the common goal, without feeling strained or overworked.

4. Establish Open Communication Lines

Empathy has a huge role in establishing open communication lines where recognition and constructive feedback are duly given and welcomed. Managers can make employees feel valued by recognising and celebrating their achievements. They can also contribute to an employee’s career growth by tactfully conveying specific skills they can improve on.

Open communication lines give each team member the chance to voice out concerns and become accountable to one another. Showing empathy at work means being able to actively listen and propose suitable solutions to minimise stress and tension.

5. Schedule Check-in Meetings

Scheduling check-in meetings allows team leaders to implement a supportive work culture. Open communication lines are the first step whilst check-in meetings are the follow-through. Empathy is shown by monitoring each member’s progress and addressing what is holding them back before it becomes a bigger issue.

Setbacks are inevitable. Check-in meetings enable teams to realign goals and adjust timelines accordingly. Regular check-ins show empathy at work because it gives teams the chance to provide each other with tools, resources, and/ or training to recalibrate and succeed. Just like pit stops in a race, check-in meetings are crucial in maintaining a competitive advantage at work.

6. Encourage Team Collaboration

Encouraging team collaboration enables teams to give and accept empathy at work. Team members can express when a task burdens them to the brink of exhaustion and the quality of work is compromised. Co-workers can empathise with one another by taking initiative or offering to help a teammate struggling with their task. The team member/s having difficulty can accept empathy by humbling themselves to receive help.

Collaboration also trains teams to acknowledge varied perspectives and work actively together. It helps instil empathy with an inclusive work culture that respects differences and leverages diversity for problem-solving.

7. Recognise Bias But Don’t Give in to it

When people can set bias aside and compromise, teams practise empathy while avoiding unnecessary stress due to conflict or burnout. For you not to give in to bias, you must first recognise your own set of beliefs and learn to challenge them by accommodating the needs of others.

Showing empathy at work is the capacity to shift perception from bias to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. It contributes to a healthy work culture where assumptions or prejudices are avoided. Instead, teams are encouraged to ask questions with the intention to understand each other better–not to judge or invalidate one another.

Takeaways on How to Practise Showing Empathy at Work

Showing empathy at work cultivates an environment where mutual trust and respect are established. Empathy allows each team member the chance to be better understood in a professional setting. It is a compassionate act of extending care and support to peers, clients, and customers by putting oneself in their shoes. One must learn to actively listen and respond to non-verbal cues to practise empathy at work. It is also having the humility to accept empathy by knowing when to ask for help.

Empathy is a necessary and teachable skill that is learnt through practice. Leaders can foster a supportive culture by showing empathy to their teams and inspiring them to pay it forward in any way possible. Showing empathy at work strengthens productive relationships and fuels collaboration, contributing to happy customers and employees with job satisfaction.

There are many benefits to showing empathy at work, and the best part is that it will not cost you a lot to be kind. When people are keen on showing empathy at work, there is less room for stress due to conflict. Instead, teams will be inclined to focus on solutions and achieve the shared goal.


    Book a Discovery Session

    First Name*

    Last Name

    Your Email*

    Mobile Number*



    Leila Rezaiguia
    Leila Rezaiguia