Empathy at Work – N2S (Note to Self)


We are hard-charging, goal and achievement driven people. Translation: we want to be successful, honor our word and be respected by others. Notice empathy or compassion in sync with our success. we bring our heart to work and hammer away at our task plan. Focus on goal, target and succeed or fail. . . Or is it?

As people we need connection through our work. The type and intensity of connection is as diverse as we are people. However we all benefit if we are offered one thing:  Empathy at Work. Three words, five syllables and yet it’s still a scarce commodity. When’s the last time you encountered ANY degree of it in the course of a day? It’s an easy sentence, so why do we struggle? Perhaps it has something to do with the tools we use at work.

I remember a song I learned as a child, “If I had a Hammer”. You may remember it. A song about hammering out danger, warning and love between people – “all over this land. The song didn’t mention that it’s not good to hammer everything. Seems common sense, but occasionally forget it when we enter the work arena.

Empathy in the arena is as important, if not more important than the tools we rely heavily on in our work. We are more successful if we collaborate. Here are a few ways to practice empathy effectively. Its good at work, and any other interaction.

  1. Set your viewpoint aside and genuinely try to see things from the other person’s lens
  2. Acknowledge the other person’s perspective
  3. Challenge / Question your attitude
  4. Listen
  5. Ask helpful questions

Hammers are helpful, but not on everything. Remember, just because you have a hammer, does not make everything a nail. Empathy at Work is a hot commodity and a soft skill with high ROI.  If you are not receiving empathy, start by offering it. People often reflect back to us the behaviors we demonstrate. Empathy and success are partners, not opponents.


With Warmest Regards,

Coach Val